Pragmatism: What’s the Use?   /   Fall 2001   /    Bibliographic Review

A Short Annotated Bibliography on Pragmatism

From the Editors

Margaret Hamilton standing next to the navigation software that she and her MIT team produced for the Apollo Project (1969).

Any consideration of pragmatism should begin with Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Peirce laid out the basic pragmatist tenet that the meaning of a statement lies in its consequences, and he gave his views the name “pragmatism.” William James then took over the term and attached it to his own ideas just over one hundred years ago. James moved from work on psychology in the 1890s into more philosophical and religious writings. His key works include The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Pragmatism. Dewey’s work is so vast that it is hard to know where to begin. His writings make up a multi-volume collection divided into his early, middle and late works, but the two volumes of The Essential Dewey offer readers a helpful selection of his writings. A few secondary sources have been included here for those who wish to study further these founders of pragmatism. For an interesting history of Peirce, James, Dewey, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, see Louis Menand’s recent book The Metaphysical Club (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).

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