Pragmatics is the study of language use. In everyday life, we use language to communicate our intentions. We also use language to describe ourselves. We also use language to talk about other things. Semantics, on the other hand, is the study of the actual objects and ideas that we use to communicate.
While pragmatism has its advantages, it is also flawed in several ways. For example, it can lead to absurd results when applied to ethical or moral issues. For example, when morality and physical measurements become part of the definition of “what works,” the idea of “what works” becomes subjective. In this sense, pragmatism is really just relativism, only with a less polished exterior.
In the past, the pragmatist tradition has been a source of inspiration for liberatory philosophical projects. Today, many of these liberatory philosophical projects turn to pragmatism for guidance. The pragmatist tradition is not a dead end; instead, it provides a foundation for philosophical projects that aim to improve the state of the world.
The pragmatic approach is not always easy to adopt. However, practicing this philosophy can be helpful in a variety of situations. During your first attempts, you may find it hard to follow your intuition. But positive experiences will make you more pragmatic. Consider the following example: a craftsman is sitting on a scaffold, and a hammer accidentally slips from his hand. Rather than climbing up the scaffold to retrieve it, he simply takes off his steel-toed work boot.
Ultimately, the benefits of a pragmatic approach to communication will help us learn and understand the way language functions. By understanding the social context of human communication, pragmatics will help us understand how people make use of language. We use language to convey different meanings and functions, and without it, we wouldn’t be able to communicate well.
The pragmatic approach to a problem involves actively working with the resources that we have. This way, we can make the most of our current situation. Moreover, we can develop realistic goals and priorities. Hence, we can avoid the stress of dreading unpleasant tasks and spend hours debating whether it is worth completing.
Pragmatism began to gain popularity in the United States around the 1870s. The philosopher William James and Charles Sanders Peirce helped formulate this school of thought. They were influential in establishing pragmatism as a viable third alternative to ‘Continental’ philosophy. Another influential figure of early pragmatism is Josiah Royce.
The key ideas of pragmatism began in 1870s discussions of the Harvard Metaphysical Club. Later, Peirce and James used the term in public lectures, which increased its popularity. James and Peirce subsequently used pragmatism as a term for the method, principle, and maxim.