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Along with jazz, pragmatism stands as the greatest uniquely American contribution to world culture. As the music wails in the background, we will study the classic pragmatists: William James, C. S. Peirce, and John Dewey. We will continue with the contemporary inheritors of the tradition: Cornel West, Richard Rorty, and Hilary Putnam. Although it has influenced both analytic and continental philosophy, pragmatism is a powerful third philosophical movement. Always asking what practical difference would it make, our authors investigate the central questions and disputes of philosophy, from epistemology and metaphysics to ethics and religion. Rather than seeing philosophy as an esoteric discipline, the pragmatic philosophers (with the possible exception of Peirce) see philosophy as integral to our culture and see themselves as public intellectuals.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
final paper, several short assignments
at least two PHIL courses
Philosophy and American Studies majors, then seniors and juniors of any major
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
PHIL History Courses
TEAC Related Courses