Re: MD Practical Nightmares

From: Valence (
Date: Sat Feb 08 2003 - 21:43:17 GMT

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD Practical Nightmares"

    Hey DMB,

    In any case, I think pragmatism's rejection of so many traditional
    philosophical issues only demonstates the moral paralysis inherent in
    pragmatism, where moral
    sentiments are just attituides and plattitudes, they're impervious,
    incorribigle and contingent. It is no wonder this view has no defense
    against a NAZI hijacking. It treats morality just as SOM does; it sees such
    things as unknowable, uncertain, unfounded and not really real.

        I'm not sure what philosophy you're criticizing in this quote DMB,
    (maybe ethical relativism? or some sort of post-modernism?)... but it's not
    pragmatism. Pragmatism is tool, it's not a "philosophical position" in the
    traditional sense. Saying that pragmatism suffers from "moral paralysis"
    because it "has no defense against a NAZI hijacking" is as meaningless as
    saying that a hammer suffers from "moral paralysis" because it has no
    defense against being used as murder weapon as opposed to a carpentry aid;
    or saying that a pencil suffers from "moral paralysis" because it can be
    used to write MEIN KAMPF as opposed to LILA.

        James's Pragmatism is simply a method of examining seemingly opposing
    metaphysical positions by tracing the consequences of holding each
    respective position. Pragmatism doesn't claim to be able to tell you which
    side of a dispute you should come down on. It claims to be able to help you
    decide if there is really a dispute in the first place, and if so, what the
    disagreement really is.

        For example, the pragmatist in me is telling me that you and I don't
    disagree about whether pragmatism suffers from "moral paralysis" or whether
    pragmatism is "... a moral nightmare.... the stuff of horror movies. ...a
    black abyss. ... nihilism at its worst. ... quite wrong ...even dangerous".
    Rather, we disagree about the far more fundamental issue of what pragmatism
    is, and what its function is. Until we agree on what we both mean when we
    discuss "pragmatism" there seems little point in discussing it.

        I suspect that your understanding of pragmatism is mainly drawn from
    Phaedrus's reading of James in LILA (you posted some of those quotes earlier
    in this thread and your thoughts on the matter seem to echo Phaedrus's very
    closely). It is my opinion that Phaedrus badly misunderstood James's
    pragmatism. His deep misunderstanding causes him both to indict pragmatism
    on a number of irrelevant grounds and to believe that the MOQ is a
    continuation and correction of pragmatism (both claims I believe to be
    mistaken). I would be happy to explain to you where and how I think
    Phaedrus got it wrong if you're interested....

        But what I would really recommend is getting some first hand experience
    with pragmatism. Maybe go and try reading James and drawing your own
    conclusions. Maybe you'll think Phaedrus got his number dead on, or maybe
    you'll agree with me.... who knows.

    take care,

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