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Pragmatism: Key Resources (April 2013): Overviews

By John R. Shook and Tibor Solymosi


Reflections on pragmatism’s breadth of relevance to philosophical problems, pragmatism’s historical development, and its relations with cultural contexts have become plentiful.  Three major reference works supply many essays about pragmatism: A Companion to Pragmatism, edited by John Shook and Joseph Margolis; The Oxford Handbook of American Philosophy, edited by Cheryl Misak; and American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia, edited by John Lachs and Robert Talisse.  Pragmatism in the Americas, edited by Gregory Pappas, features essays exploring pragmatists’ impact on Hispanic thought and original pragmatist themes emerging from Latin American culture.  Wide-angle narratives about pragmatism’s roots in American life and culture by outstanding intellectual historians include Scott Pratt’s Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy; Joan Richardson’s A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein; Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club; and Douglas Anderson’s Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture.  H. S. Thayer’s Meaning and Action: A Critical History of Pragmatism, now in its second edition, is the best general history of pragmatism.  Susan Haack’s edited anthology Pragmatism, Old and New gathers essential readings.

Reflections on pragmatism’s growth from and enrichment of distinctive features of the American experience have been appearing with satisfying regularity from a diverse array of interdisciplinary scholars.  Those deserving mention include Jonathan Levin’s The Poetics of Transition: Emerson, Pragmatism and American Literary Modernism; Jessica Feldman’s Victorian Modernism: Pragmatism and the Varieties of Aesthetic Experience; Walton Muyumba’s The Shadow and the Act: Black Intellectual Practice, Jazz Improvisation, and Philosophical Pragmatism; Richard Shusterman’s Practicing Philosophy: Pragmatism and the Philosophical Life; John McDermott’s The Drama of Possibility: Experience as Philosophy of Culture; and Stuart Rosenbaum’s Pragmatism and the Reflective Life.  Readable overviews and expositions of pragmatism’s technical positions on philosophical stances include Michael Bacon’s Pragmatism: An Introduction; Robert Talisse and Scott Aikin’s Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed; Richard Bernstein’s The Pragmatic Turn; John Lachs’s Stoic Pragmatism; Robert Schwartz’s Rethinking Pragmatism; and Douglas McDermid’s The Varieties of Pragmatism: Truth, Realism, and Knowledge from James to Rorty.

Works Cited