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Its origins are often attributed to the philosophers William James, John Dewey, and Charles Sanders Peirce.
Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and a "neo-classical" pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey.Richard Rorty expanded on these and other arguments in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature in which he criticized attempts by many philosophers of science to carve out a space for epistemology that is entirely unrelated to—and sometimes thought of as superior to—the empirical sciences. The dream, he argued, was impossible in practice as well as misguided in theory, because it separates epistemology from scientific inquiry.Although all human knowledge is partial, with no ability to take a "God's-eye-view," this does not necessitate a globalized skeptical attitude, a radical philosophical skepticism (as distinguished from that which is called scientific skepticism).Inspiration for various pragmatists Dewey, in The Quest For Certainty, criticized what he called "the philosophical fallacy":- philosophers often take categories (such as the mental and the physical) for granted because they don't realize that these are merely nominal concepts that were invented to help solve specific problems. Various examples are the "ultimate Being" of Hegelian philosophers, the belief in a "realm of value", the idea that logic, because it is an abstraction from concrete thought, has nothing to do with the act of concrete thinking, and so on. Hildebrand sums up the problem: "Perceptual inattention to the specific functions comprising inquiry led realists and idealists alike to formulate accounts of knowledge that project the products of extensive abstraction back onto experience." (Hildebrand 2003) From the outset, pragmatists wanted to reform philosophy and bring it more in line with the scientific method as they understood it.They argued that idealist and realist philosophy had a tendency to present human knowledge as something beyond what science could grasp.Pragmatism instead tries to explain the relation between knower and known. Introspection and intuition were staple philosophical tools at least since Descartes.
He argued that there is no absolutely first cognition in a cognitive process; such a process has its beginning but can always be analyzed into finer cognitive stages.
It equates any conception of an object to the general extent of the conceivable implications for informed practice of that object's effects.
This is the heart of his pragmatism as a method of experimentational mental reflection arriving at conceptions in terms of conceivable confirmatory and disconfirmatory circumstances—a method hospitable to the generation of explanatory hypotheses, and conducive to the employment and improvement of verification.
Peirce insisted that (1) in reasoning, there is the presupposition, and at least the hope, and (2) contrary to Descartes' famous and influential methodology in the Meditations on First Philosophy, doubt cannot be feigned or created by verbal fiat to motivate fruitful inquiry, and much less can philosophy begin in universal doubt.
It arises from confrontation with some specific recalcitrant matter of fact (which Dewey called a "situation"), which unsettles our belief in some specific proposition.
James regarded Peirce's "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" series (including "The Fixation of Belief" (1877), and especially "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (1878), as the foundation of pragmatism . John Green had been instrumental by emphasizing the importance of applying Alexander Bain's definition of belief, which was "that upon which a man is prepared to act".