Pragmatism

It has become a kind of habit to look at things with the intention of getting something. We call it “pragmatism,” and we say that the truth is something that pays. If we meditate in order to get to the truth, it seems we will be well paid. In meditation, we stop, and we look deeply. We stop just to be there, to be with ourselves and with the world. When we are capable of stopping, we begin to see and, if we can see, we understand. Peace and happiness are the fruit of this process. We should master the art of stopping in order to really be with our friend and with the flower.

This is the way things go in philosophy. There are traditions and winds of doctrine and many seem shut into the tradition in which they have been brought up. There is vital need of communication. I may remark here, incidentally, that I have found European philosophers more shut into their traditions than Americans. This is not a matter of virtue of American thinkers but of historical circumstances. They have had to learn and assimilate until it came about that they could strike out on the paths which appealed to them. Such independence was not always welcomed abroad when it occurred. This, I think, happened in the case of pragmatism and, in some measure, with realism. And, then, curiously enough, when what was regarded as a stalemate in the realistic movement occurred—how justifiable remains to be seen—a new kind of colonialism manifested itself in the United States. One soon heard only of analysis a la Moore, of Wittgenstein, and of logical positivism. This to be followed by existentialism. I do not say this attitude was universal. There remained many Deweyites and the study of Peirce increased. But I had to work rather alone. I continued to circle around perceiving, evolutionary levels, double knowledge of the mind-brain functioning and humanism. That is the way things go and one must have what has been called intestinal fortitude. I think the situation is somewhat altering and more of an international equilibrium is getting established. But what I call journalistic philosophy still echoes the period of neo-colonialism. Literary critics, whose philosophy is second-hand, mouth the accepted terms. And I find that many young philosophers in the United States seem to have little knowledge of past developments. In their eyes, one must be analytic, or a logical positivist or a defender of ordinary language.