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About “whole books about philosophical trends”.
Philosophy has no “essence”. One sentence is a thesis. You can accept it dogmatically. Or don't accept it. And even call it “your philosophy”. But philosophy in the strict sense arises where there is a problem and an argument. There is such a fragment of the work of an ancient Greek: “Everything is full of gods.” So a fortune teller around the corner can say – and it will be an awesome insight, it's also gnosis.
But when we try to understand what question this statement answers and why the answer is given in this way, we reconstruct Thales ' philosophy. “Whole books on philosophy” make philosophy a philosophy, not a collection of wise quotes from smart people.�
William James was interested in the questions ” What is truth?” (and the answer to this question is James ' pragmatic theory of truth.), “What is an emotion?” (and the answer to this question is the James-Lange theory of emotions), ” Do we have the right to believe anything in the absence of evidence? In what cases?” (and the answer to this question will be the article “The Will to Believe”), etc.�
About not understanding anything in philosophy.�
James is not the worst author to start with. The full title of his main author's collection, after all: “The Will to Believe and other essays on popular Philosophy.” Take it and read it if you're interested.�
About emotions and James.
It is unlikely that emotions will interfere with a pragmatist more than any other person. According to James, emotions are reactions to physiological changes in the body, and not vice versa. A person who is disturbed by some emotion, James suggests to reconsider their behavior. From this grows the maxim ” act as if…”, adopted by all pop psychologists of the world. If you are not interested, imitate the interest, it will appear by itself over time. If you're sad, smile. If you're scared, hold your face and pretend that everything is normal. Etc. All this works within certain limits, although the theory is as old as the world.
Understand in the most general terms-yes, if you start reading the works of the classics of pragmatism (Dewey, Pierce, James). Without reading the primary sources, it will be difficult to understand pragmatism, but the primary sources themselves are not so complex that they cannot be understood at all without context.�
But without knowing the context, it will be difficult to understand why they even suggested this approach. It is almost impossible to understand James outside the context of transcendentalism (Emerson in particular). Transcendentalism is hard to understand if you don't know what Kant was writing about. Kant is difficult to understand unless one is familiar with the ideas of Hume, Berkeley, Locke, and Leibniz.�
To understand these four, it would not be bad to understand at all what the controversy between empiricism and rationalism was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But this will be difficult without understanding the Renaissance philosophy from which these trends grow, and the scholasticism that they criticize. So, we need to understand what scholasticism is. But scholasticism is based on the logical works of Aristotle and Augustine, and Augustine is based on Platonism (by the way, without Plato it is difficult to understand Aristotle too). Plato is difficult to understand unless you consider Socrates ' argument with the sophists, and the sophists are based on the idea of distinguishing between “truth” and “opinion” formulated in early Greek philosophy…
In fact, in physics, as in philosophy, the approach to teaching is more or less historical: first the school understands mechanics, then electromagnetism and thermodynamics, and only in the end – the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. And this is not accidental: the fact is that both in physics and in philosophy, new ideas are built on top of previous ones. Therefore, it is difficult to understand more complex ideas without knowing the previous ones.
So, of course, you can explain” on your fingers ” what the theory of relativity is, even to a person who does not understand physics at all. But whether this will be fully “understanding” or, more precisely, how deep such an understanding will be is an open question.
I think that, as a rule, books are written in order to explain this basic idea, to justify it, to show the practical applications of a certain idea. In philosophy as well.
Utility in pragmatism is by no means limited to material gain. For example, emotional satisfaction, feelings of pleasure, peace of mind, good relationships with other people, benefits for the social group and for the society in which we live are all examples of utility.�
This criterion is applicable, from the point of view of pragmatists, to the assessment of philosophy, science, and religion. In this sense, if you look at James ' “The Diversity of Religious Experience”, you will easily find that James rejects atheistic criticism of religion from the standpoint of physicalism (i.e., such as “Gagarin flew into space, did not see God”), suggesting instead to evaluate religious beliefs by their impact on human life – that is, whether they make our lives more meaningful, productive, whether they make us good people, etc., etc. Arguments like “religion is evil because you have to eat, drink, and have fun” would not have been understood by James.
Accordingly, to answer your very last question: feelings, emotions, and all that sort of thing from the so-called pragmatism as a philosophical concept are one of the aspects of “practical utility”.
Yes. The essence can really be expressed in one phrase, what is there.
For example, “what serves the interests of the proletariat is moral”)
But beyond that… When you start learning something, you quickly discover that you know EVERYTHING about it.�
This is a normal and expected state of an amateur.
So the psychologist of the first years of practice (I hope all the same, only the FIRST year) understands everything, pierces through with a look, worries that everyone comes “with the same thing” (of course, understandable and simple for him, the psychologist). Everything he reads reduces him to the familiar and genuinely worries about the extent of his Wisdom: he can't find anything new in psychology books anymore.
However, the same is true in many other professions and fields of knowledge.
A step further. One more step. More. “And if you're not really an idiot, you discover so many devils in so many details that you quickly realize that it's a hell of learning and practice for you, Paganel, to wander around all your life, discovering more and more butterflies and bugs, finding out one day that you've confused Africa with America, and-oh, what-then…”)
Quite, yes. Pragmatism is one of the very popular teachings, in the sense of simple, generally accessible to the common sense of the broad modern philistine.
However, it is doubtful that anyone in our time, having at least some basic education, really has no idea about philosophy and logic.
If you've never been interested in tennis, can you learn to play?
If you really want to, then yes.
If you have a talent for coordination and logic, then yes, it's easy.
If you have time, money, and a positive example for all the previous factors, then you just need to start doing it. And everything will go by itself.
The same goes for pragmatism. If you have the talent to work with your hands, and not the talent to communicate and reason with pleasure, then you have the opportunity to understand what it is.
P.S of the Author:
And more… You can ask me that, right? Why write entire books about philosophical trends, if their essence fits in one sentence?
I also wanted to ask if:
Pragmatist-follower, supporter of pragmatism as a philosophical system. In the everyday sense, a pragmatist is a person who builds his own system of actions and views on life in terms of obtaining practically useful results. “What is best for us to believe is true,” argued the founder of pragmatism, W. W. Smith. James .
So, feelings, emotions and other things can not interfere with the pragmatist?