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The Promise of Pragmatism: Modernism and the Crisis of Knowledge and Authority


reviewed by George Cotkin 1994

coverTitle: The Promise of Pragmatism: Modernism and the Crisis of Knowledge and Authority
Author(s): John Patrick Diggins
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, Chicago
ISBN: 0226148793, Pages: , Year: 1995
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The dark, brooding specter of Henry Adams informs this work from beginning to end. Indeed, Adams's persona and Diggins's presence, at times, marvelously meld together. In this immensely challenging and ethically charged volume Diggins wants, despite his stated intentions, to do more than simply evaluate "the promise of pragmatism." He intends to use the weight of history, the burden of doubt, and the knife of irony to proclaim that the only saving grace available to our civilization may lie in a chastened relationship with the past, present, and future. Given such a perspective, it is not surprising that Diggins will find pragmatism wanting and John Dewey's earnest optimism terribly problematic. Diggins sees an unfortunate continuity in pragmatism from its origins with James, Peirce, and especially Dewey to its present paragon, Richard Rorty. All too often, pragmatism has been concerned with experimental verification, with a notion of truth that is future-oriented. In this looking forward, pragmatism has shown, in Diggins's perspective, a fatally flawed unwillingness to grapple with history,... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 96 Number 2, 1994, p. 345-346
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 61, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 4:42:40 AM

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