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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MISSING THE POINT, 18 April 2001
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This review is from: Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (Paperback)
I think the previous reviewer was somewhat missing the point of James' thought. Essentially we create truths by discourse and truth does not exist independently of human existence. Therefore whatever we will to believe is true in as much as it is socially agreed. For instance although scientists may 'prove' something to be true, in fact the scientist is merely using a tautological method of proving that which is true by a method that has been shown to prove that the 'fact' is true. Confusing? Yes but the movement through history is one of changes in our belief systems and essentially our truths.
I suggest a perusal of some of the post-positivist thought published to get a handle on this fascinating debate. Key names are Imre Lakatos, Thomas Kuhn and Richard Rorty.
It is a very rewarding and fascinating way of looking with new eyes on the world.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Apr 2010 19:22:28 BDT
Sadgasm says:
I could be misunderstanding this review, I'm definitely no philosopher, but to my mind it asserts that truth is just what people agree upon and that scientific truth is just as arbitrary as the 'truth' of some primitive tribe. If everyone agreed that sacrificing a lamb to an idol would make you fly it wouldn't happen, the only way to fly is by using science and technology such an aeroplane. Surely this kind of thinking is anything but pragmatic and more like intellectual masturbation.

Posted on 4 Apr 2011 20:53:35 BDT
Spinoza says:
So if we all agreed that the Holocaust never happened, that would mean it didn't happen? Or that gravity didn't exist?

Sorry, clever or not, it's still bollocks.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 May 2011 17:15:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 May 2011 17:18:24 BDT
Pragmatists believe that Truth (in the sense of what is, rather than what appears to be) is ultimately inaccessible to us - we have no way of stepping outside our own perceptions.

However, we do not simply hold to possible truths on a whim. Instead, we have to judge competing hypotheses about the world based upon the evidence available to us. That "truth" is what is socially agreed upon simply means that we (as a society) consider true that which best seems to the majority of people to fit the evidence we have.
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