The American Philosophy Pragmatism -- By: A. v. C. P. Huizinga
BSac 66:261 (Jan 1909) p. 78
The American Philosophy Pragmatism
Critically Considered In Relation To Present Day Theology
When Professor McCosh of Princeton fame wished for a specific American, a national philosophy, which should be distinctively characteristic of our land, he little anticipated the speedy realization of his desire, still less the particular nature of that philosophy which, with some reservations, may be fairly called American. Pragmatism is a specifically American Weltanschauung, a philosophic wisdom which as such is formulated and sustained on our native soil. It not only fits the temper of the great republic, but it found here nurture, development, and formulation. It has endeavored to give an account of itself, to justify itself in a consistent way. Professor Pierce, Professor James, and Professor Dewey are the representatives of this school. The pragmatic literature up to very recent time was rather limited, and even now consists mainly of articles scattered through the various philosophical magazines, it being rather in keeping with the pragmatic attitude, not to let reason expand its explanations into bulky volumes, as did the old school. A short historical review of the rise of pragmatism will enable us to understand the better its temper, its teaching, and its setting.
The evolutionary theories influenced potently the ethical conceptions; especially did they affect the attitude towards the inherited wisdom of tradition, as represented in dogmas, creeds,
BSac 66:261 (Jan 1909) p. 79
laws, teachings, etc. Evolution will not be fettered by the worn-out superstitio of the past; it faces the present and makes hopefully for the future. Things are not static, they evolve, and in the various interplays emerge the things that are to supersede those that have had their day. “History,” said Höffding, “is the great voting-place for standards of value.” We that are making history, subject to the process of development, are therefore concerned with the regulative standards. Where are they found, and what part are they to play in our life? In no department of study are displayed more amazingly superficial explanations than in the current views held about the evolutionary doctrines. Of course there are different views, and justly so. Darwin put side by side in the accounts of his theory the famous phrases “struggle for existence” and “natural selection,” which cooperating factors result in the “survival of the fittest.” It is safe to say that in the subsequent discussions of the evolutionary theories it has been agreed upon that the latter factor, “natural selection,” has been overemphasized. The assumption in the determining power of natural selection is the reason...
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