35 Points I Understood From Pragmatism

Pragmatism by William James

  1. Philosophy is our “dumb sense of what life honestly and deeply means.”
  2. Things beyond our understanding often intrigue us.
  3. Philosophy is both supreme and trivial. It can give us courage but it “bakes no bread.”
  4. Philosophers try to hide or eliminate their temperament, but it affects everything. We search  for a philosophical stance that matches our temperament and think others are foolish when they don’t experience or interpret the same things we do.
  5. Philosophically most of us harbor contradictions or ride the bandwagon of someone else.
  6. Philosophically most don’t seek to fix contradictions, just pick and choose what works for the moment.
  7. Despite such an empirical stance from most, we still hold onto religion and even make a religion out of science.
  8. To James and others shallow optimism was in vogue in the early 1900’s.
  9. Few people find a complete philosophy that suits them.
  10. Pragmatism is only concerned with an argument when there are practical differences that arise from each option.
  11. Philosophy should be about finding definite differences for definite instances in our life.
  12. Some people believe nothing they do matters, that what will be, will be in the end; they can take a “moral holiday” and leave everything up to God or whatever supernatural force they believe in.
  13. Greatest enemy of one truth is the other truths we believe.
  14. After an experience, who created the experience and what type of person they are doesn’t change the experience.
  15. Nothing humanity does will last forever. [may be quoted from elsewhere]
  16. Some hold to faith because the future looks bleak. If past and present were good/perfect who would ask for change?
  17. If we take a look at the world, whether nature or man-made elements, it does not seem apparent that there is one ultimate purpose. Everything works with or against other systems and purposes for it’s own purposes.
  18. Humanity has purposes, but unforeseen elements always  change the purpose and either make it better or worse, but it’s always different and more complex.
  19. The world is like a rope, each fibre can tell a different piece of the story, but a cross-section of the rope will not mean simply one thing.
  20. Medications in our knowledge are always gradual, what is old is never uprooted and replaced in entirety.
  21. New truths are new experiences mixed with old truths that combine and modify each other. It’s safe to say some of our truths are very ancient.
  22. With logic and science we can control and create many things but those very abilities may be the cause of our own destruction.
  23. We can talk about things, name them rules, principles, or hypothesis, but the only reality is the flux of our sensations and emotions.
  24. “True ideas are those we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify. False ideas are those that we cannot.” Truth is not inherent, it is made by verification.
  25. We live in a world of realities that can be infinitely useful or infinitely harmful.” A bit of truth can save our life in one instant and that same piece of truth can be irrelevant in another moment. If we don’t have a stockpile of momentarily irrelevant truths, it can be the difference between life and death.
  26. Many of our truths we have not verified or cannot verify, but we trust someone else to have gotten the verification which makes it true. But truth has to be able to be verified by someone.
  27. “Names are arbitrary, but once understood they must be kept to.” It doesn’t matter what something is called as long as it’s understood what is meant or else there becomes confusion.
  28. If looking for a philosophy, we want one that meshes with our previous beliefs and truths and points us to an end.
  29. Truth means that something is verified, the same way health, wealth, and strength are made in the course of experience.
  30. As humans we generalize and even pragmatically that makes sense. Truth doesn’t mean every instance has to be verified to be true, but simply that it can be verified or its “kind” has been.
  31. With wealth we know it’s not an inherent quality someone has from birth. With health, we tend to partially confuse it with an inherent quality. With strength, even more so we confuse it most of all with an inherent quality. All are the same, all are simply words used to describe something that has happened or is happening.
  32. Truth can change. “… we have to live today by what truth we can get today, and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.”
  33. Reality can be seen different way. We pay attention to some, ignore others, emphasize some things, downplay others. One battle for instance can be seen as both a victory and a defeat by two different individuals.
  34. The word does not create the reality, the reality creates the need for the word. Such as winter, it doesn’t get cold because we call it winter, it gets cold and therefore we call it winter.
  35. These names help to prepare us for possibilities and likelihoods. They are generalizations to assist us.
  36. Possibility means that conditions exist which could bring it into reality and there is little likelihood of that which will prevent it. When all conditions are met, it’s no longer possibility but reality.

Please leave your thoughts. Sometimes the only way one can find the truth is to examine all possibilities.

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