Pragmatics is the study of human thought and action, taking into account how the words we use convey meaning in context. It considers the ambiguity and implication of words and the way that they are constructed. It also examines the ways in which people use language to communicate, including the negotiation of meaning between speaker and listener. Pragmatics is an integral part of the study of language, as without it there would be little understanding of its meaning.
Pragmatism first emerged in the United States in the 1870s as a third alternative to ‘Continental’ philosophy and analytic philosophy. Charles Sanders Peirce was its first major proponent, and later William James developed the movement further. Pragmatism was also influenced by the scientific revolution surrounding evolution.
In his early 1870s, a group of Harvard-educated men met for informal philosophical discussions. Members included the proto-positivist Chauncey Wright, future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, logician and mathematician Charles Sanders Peirce, and psychologist William James.
The key ideas of pragmatism were developed in discussions at the Harvard Metaphysical Club around 1870. The idea gained popularity during the 1880s, when Peirce and James developed their ideas. James’s 1898 public lectures on pragmatism made it widely recognized. James and Peirce used the term ‘pragmatism’ as a way to refer to the method, principle, or maxim.
Contemporary philosophers have re-examined the ideas of pragmatism. Some of the leading neo-pragmatists include Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, Nicholas Rescher, and Jurgen Habermas. In addition to Rorty, Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom are considered pragmatists.
The study of language and its use in social contexts is considered pragmatic. The focus of pragmatics is on the literal and non-literal aspects of language, as well as the way people produce meaning through language. The study of language is an interdisciplinary field that embraces social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities.
Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes practical solutions and avoids idealizing solutions. Unlike idealistic views, pragmatic people are hardheaded and practical. In fact, they are often complimented for their pragmatic nature. A pragmatic noun is a noun and describes the solution to a problem.