Pragmatics is a philosophical tradition that focuses on the practical aspects of human action and thought. It is a critical study that considers the implied meanings and construction of an utterance, the social context of an utterance, and the negotiation between a speaker and a listener.
Pragmatics is a vital feature of language, as it provides the basis for all interactions. In fact, without the discipline of pragmatics, there would be little understanding of the meaning of words. The practice of pragmatism was founded by William James, a psychologist and psychiatrist, and Charles Sanders Peirce, a mathematician.
Both James and Peirce were involved in the Metaphysical Club, a group of Harvard-educated men who met for informal discussions in the early 1870s. They also included future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Many of pragmatism’s key ideas originated in these discussions. They include the idea that the world is a living system that is inseparable from agency within it, the importance of a relationship to the world, and the reliance on scientific experimentation to test philosophical concepts.
John Dewey is considered the third major figure in the classical pragmatist pantheon. He became a prominent figure at Columbia University, where he wrote numerous books and collaborated with fellow pragmatist G.H. Mead.
Throughout his career, Dewey’s writings had a significant influence on American intellectual life. His work has been influenced by a variety of other philosophers, including G.H. Mead, George Herbert Mead, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Alain Locke.
Although pragmatism has gained prominence in the United States, the intellectual centre of gravity has begun to shift outside of North America. A number of vibrant research networks are now forming in China, Scandinavia, and Central Europe. Some have even ventured into the philosophy of religion.
During the early years of pragmatism, it was largely influenced by the scientific revolution that occurred around evolution. However, the philosophical emphasis of pragmatism changed with the rise of a new kind of philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce.
By the late nineteenth century, pragmatism had become a prominent branch of philosophy. The Metaphysical Club, composed of several Harvard-educated men, began discussing pragmatism as a principle or maxim. Several of the members of the club, including Peirce and James, were involved in a series of public lectures that popularized the term.
Pragmatists believe that all philosophical concepts should be tested through scientific experimentation. This is a foil to instrumentalist rationality, which states that the world is a set of facts that can be discovered with logic and arithmetic.
Pragmatics is a broad field of philosophical studies. The discipline is divided into two main branches: semantics and syntax. Semantics is the study of how the meaning of words is constructed, while syntax is the study of how the meaning of a word is determined through its context.
Various scholars have been engaged in the study of pragmatism throughout the twentieth century. Today, its influence has extended into the philosophy of religion, political theory, and the social sciences. One prominent example is the Frankfurt School philosopher Jurgen Habermas. He has made major contributions to political philosophy, ethics, and the philosophy of law.