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Pragmatism

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PRAGMATISM; A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH BY JOHN DEWEY

PRAGMATISM; A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH BY JOHN DEWEY

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  • 1. PRAGMATISM; A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH BY JOHN DEWEY CONCEPT OF EDUCATION Education is a systematic process through which a child or an adult acquires knowledge, experience, skill and sound attitude. It makes an individual civilized, refined, cultured and educated. Every society gives importance to education because it is a panacea for all troubles. It is the key to solve the various problems of life. Back in the 1500s, the word education meant “the raising of children,” but it also meant “the training of animals.” While there are probably a few teachers who feel like animal trainers, education these days has come to mean either “teaching” or “the process of acquiring knowledge.” Different educationist‟s thoughts from both Eastern and Western side have explained the term „education‟ according to the need of the hour. Various educationists have given their views on education. Some important definitions are,  Socrates "Education means the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man".  Plato "Education is the capacity to feel pleasure and pain at the right moment. It develops in the body and in the soul of the pupil all the beauty and all the perfection which he is capable of".  Heinrich Pestalozzi "Education is natural harmonious and progressive development of man's innate powers".  Mahatma Gandhi “By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in man – body, mind and spirit”.  Dr. Zakir Husain “Education is the process of the individual mind, getting to its full possible development”. CONCEPT OF PHILOSOPHY The term philosophy is taken from the Greek word, (philia) meaning "to love" and (Sophia) meaning "wisdom." Thus, "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom".
  • 2. Page | 1 Philosophy is the search for self-understanding.Philosophy is a searching of inquiry into the deeper values of life. For in the past, philosophy was the only sustained search for knowledge. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. Philosophy's goal is nothing less than a systematic world view. Other fields study particular kinds of things. Philosophy asks how it all fits together. For example, if you want to learn about bodies, take a course in physics or biology. If you want to learn about minds, take a course in psychology. But if you want to learn about how minds are related to bodies, or how physics is related to psychology, then philosophy (of mind) is present to describe all questions. Philosophy encompasses subfields called philosophy of religion, of law, of economics, of biology, of physics, of mathematics, of computers, of psychology, of art, of music, of literature, and so on. Any and all of these topics can be studied in a philosophical way when one asks how they are related to each other in an overall world view. HISTORICAL VISION Before the 15th century, ideas about science (philosophy) and scientific inventions (technology) were largely separate. Philosophers didn‟t much care for the crafts of inventors, and inventors didn‟t much care for the lofty ideas of philosophers. These two aspects of modern science did not really overlap in ancient times. Also, science as discovery (such as chemistry) was largely performed by alchemists who didn‟t overlap with either the philosophers or the inventors. However, after the 15th century, the philosophical ideas that started in Greece began to merge with the technological discoveries being made by people all over the world. The discoveries made by alchemists began to play a role in both invention and philosophy. GREEK PHILOSOPHERS Scientific thinking got its start in Asia Minor with the Greek philosophers. Thales of Miletus (625-545 B.C.) was the first Greek philosopher. After Thales of Miletus, there was Anaximander (611-547 B.C.) and Anaxemenes (550-475 B.C.) both from Miletus. Then there was Heraclitus of Ephesus (540-475 B.C.), Pythagoras of Samos (582-500 B.C.) Parmenides of Elea (480 B.C.) Empedocles of Agracas (500-430 B.C.) Leucippus of Miletus (440 B.C.)
  • 3. Page | 2 and Democritus of Abdera (420 B.C.)! What a lot of long names to remember! However, all of these philosophers, in one way or another had something to offer to science. SOCRATES, PLATO AND ARISTOTLE These three Greek philosophers that had the biggest influence on science and philosophy were Socrates (477-399 B.C.) Plato (427-347 B.C.) and Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). Both Socrates and Plato came from Athens. Aristotle was from Stagira and was the student of Plato. Plato was the student of Socrates. Socrates did not like to study the natural world. He liked to think about human nature instead. Socrates didn‟t think there was anything valuable to learn by looking at nature. Plato, however, did like to look at nature and thought it was important. He began the first school dedicated to philosophy and natural philosophy. His school was called the Academy. It was located in Athens and survived for over 800 years. Plato‟s most famous student was Aristotle. Aristotle studied at the Academy for almost 20 years before he was asked to tutor the son of King Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander. Alexander would go on to become Alexander the Great. Aristotle took the study of natural philosophy even further than his teacher Plato. His work, which included logic, physics, cosmology, anatomy, and even ethics, marked the beginning of a 2000 year history of Aristotelian thought that dominated much of the Western world. PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION It is the study of the purpose, nature and ideal content of education. Other questions include the nature of the knowing mind and the human subject, problems of authority, the relationship between education and society, etc. Application of philosophical methods to the theory and practice of Education. Among the topics investigated in the philosophy of education are the nature of learning, especially in children, the purpose of education, particularly the question of whether the chief goal of educators should be imparting knowledge, developing intellectual independence, or instilling moral or political values, the nature of education-related concepts, including the concept of education itself. Major figures in the history of the philosophy of education include Plato, Rousseau and John Dewey. Philosophy of education is a term that is used to define an approach to education that is based on the planning of courses and curriculum, policies regarding education, and programs that are used to support or encourage personal and academic development. In many cases, a philosophy of education will be used to inform the structure and mission of a school. The
  • 4. Page | 3 Montessori philosophy of education, for example, is based on the philosophy of education developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who lived between 1870 and 1952. INTRODUCTION TO PRAGMATISM According to Robert R. Rusk, the Oxford Dictionary first referred to the term pragmatic in 1643 and the term pragmatism in 1663. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary the term pragmatic means dealing with matters according to their practical significance or immediate importance. The term pragmatism, according to the same source, means Doctrine that evaluates any assertion solely by its practical consequences and its bearing on human interests. The term pragmatism has been derived from the Greek term Pragma which means action. Thus, pragmatism is an ism according to which uses the criteria of reality. Pragmatism is basically an epistemological undertaking keynoted by its theory of truth and meaning. This theory state that truth can be known only through its practical consequences and is thus and individual or a social matter rather than an absolute. Action gets priority over thought. Everyone is tested on the touch-stone of experience. Beliefs and ideas are true if they are workable and profitable otherwise false. Will Durant sums up pragmatism as the doctrine that truth is the practical efficiency of an idea. It follows there from that pragmatism is not a philosophy but a method–the method of experimentation. As a basis for school practice pragmatism opposes pre-determined and pre-ordained objectives and curriculums. Values are instrumental only. There are no final or fixed values. They are evolved and are not true for all times and for all situations. According to an undeviating standard of worth, pragmatism tends to be individualistic, selfish, has no values, has no ethics and is thus superficial. ORIGIN Pragmatism was a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States around 1870. The most important of the „classical pragmatists‟ were Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), William James (1842–1910) and John Dewey (1859–1952). The influence of pragmatism declined during the first two thirds of the twentieth century, but it has undergone a revival since the 1970s with philosophers being increasingly willing to use the writings and ideas of the classical pragmatists, and also a number of thinkers, such as Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom developing philosophical views that represent later stages of the
  • 5. Page | 4 pragmatist tradition. The core of pragmatism was the pragmatist maxim, a rule for clarifying the contents of hypotheses by tracing their „practical consequences‟. In the work of Peirce and James, the most influential application of the pragmatist maxim was to the concept of truth. For much of the twentieth century, pragmatism was largely in eclipse. Few philosophers were familiar with the works of classical pragmatists such as Charles Sanders Piece and William James, and pragmatist ideas were not at the center of debate. John Dewey, who had been a dominant philosophical figure in the 1920‟s, was no longer a central figure. Analytical philosophers and their students had a central role in philosophy. It was not until the 1970s that interest in the writings of the Pragmatists became widespread and pragmatist ideas were recognized as able to make a major contribution to philosophy. JOHN DEWEY’S LIFESPAN John Dewey (1859–1952) was a pragmatic philosopher, psychologist, and educator commonly regarded as the founder of the progressive education movement. Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont on October 20, 1859. In 1875, he enrolled in the University of Vermont where he took his BA degree. Although his interest in philosophy emerged as an undergraduate, he was uncertain about his future. He taught high school for two years in Oil City, Pennsylvania, and then one more year back in his hometown of Burlington where he arranged for private tutorials in philosophy with his former teacher H. A. P. Torry. In 1894, Dewey moved to the University of Chicago to head the department of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy. Some of his most influential educational works emerged out of these laboratories including “My Pedagogic Creed” (1887, EW 5: pp. 84–95), The School and Society (1900, MW 1: pp. 1–109), and The Child and the Curriculum (1902, MW: pp. 271–291). These works not only set out Dewey‟s practical pedagogy, but they also outlined the psychological and philosophical principles upon which it relied. These principles devolved from the trial and error experiments that occurred within and without the walls of the Laboratory School. In Dewey‟s philosophy, loving and creating surpass mere knowing. “Philosophy” means, “love of wisdom;” it derives from the Greek philein (to love) and sophia (wisdom). Dewey insisted that wisdom is not “systematic and proved knowledge of fact and truth, but a conviction about moral values.The goal of Dewey‟s philosophy as education is to release the human potential for growth. Growth through freedom, creativity, and dialogue is, for him, the all-inclusive ideal, the greatest good. For example, in Democracy and Education he asserts,
  • 6. Page | 5 “Since growth is the characteristic of life, education is all one with growing; it has no end beyond itself”.However, seems appropriate give that Dewey is a philosopher of endless reconstruction in an ever-evolving, never-ending world. FORMS OF PRAGMATISM  HUMANISTIC PRAGMATISM This type of pragmatism is particularly found in social sciences. According to it the satisfaction of human nature is the criterion of utility. In philosophy, in religion and even in science man is the aim of all thinking and everything else is a means to achieve human satisfaction.  EXPERIMENTAL PRAGMATISM Modern science is based upon experimental method. The fact that can be ascertained by experiment is true. No truth is final, truth is known only to the extent it is useful in practice. The pragmatists use this criterion of truth in every field of life. The human problems can be solved only through experiment.  NOMINALISTIC PRAGMATISM When we make any experiment we attend to the result. Our aim is examination of the material. Some hypothesis about the results invariably precedes every experiment. According to nominalist pragmatism, the results of an experiment are always particular and concrete, never general and abstract.  BIOLOGICALPRAGMATISM Experimentalism of John Dewey is based upon this biological pragmatism according to which the ultimate aim of all knowledge is harmony of the man with the environment. Education develops social skill which facilitates one‟s life. The school is a miniature society which prepares the child for future life. PRINCIPLES OF PRAGMATISM a) PLURALISM Philosophically, the pragmatists are pluralists. According to them there are as many words as human beings. The ultimate reality is not one but many. Everyone searches truth and aim of life according to his experiences.
  • 7. Page | 6 b) EMPHASIS ON CHANGE The pragmatists emphasize change. The world is a process, a constant flux. Truth is always in the making. The world is ever progressing and evolving. Therefore, everything here is changing. c) UTILITARIANISM Pragmatists are utility is the test of all truth and reality. A useful principle is true. Utility means fulfillment of human purposes. The results decide the good and evil of anything, idea, beliefs and acts. Utility means satisfaction of human needs. d) CHANGING AIM AND VALUES The aim and values of life change in different times and climes. The old aims and values, therefore, cannot be accepted as they are. Human life and the world is a laboratory in which the aims and values are developed. e) INDIVIDUALISM Pragmatists are individualists. They put maximum premium upon freedom in human life. Liberty goes with equality and fraternity. Everyone should adjust to his environment. f) EMPHASIS ON SOCIAL ASPECTS Since man is a social animal therefore, he develops in social circumstances. His success is success in society. The aim of education is to make him successful by developing his social personality. g) EXPERIMENTALISM Pragmatists are experimentalists. They give more importance to action than ideas. Activity is the means to attain the end of knowledge. Therefore, one should learn by doing constant experimentation which is required in every field of life. PRAGMATISM AND EDUCATIVE PROCESS Activity lies at the center of all educative process. The basis of all teaching is the activity of the child, says Foster. Every continuous- experience or activity is educative and all education, is fact, resides in having such experience. But continuous growth in experience is not the whole education. Education is something more. It is a constant reorganizing or reconstructing of experience. Pragmatism approaches the problems of education from the „progressives‟ view point “progress implies change. Change further implies novelty”, so education cannot be conceived of as acquired once for all. Problem solving is at the core of all education. The educative process thus becomes empirical, experimental, and piecemeal: in a word pragmatic.
  • 8. Page | 7 EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS 1. EDUCATION AS LIFE Pragmatists firmly believe that old and traditional education is dead and lifeless. Education is a continuous re-organizing, reconstructing and integrating the experience and activities of race. They want to conserve the worthwhile culture of the past, think out the solutions to meet the new situations and then integrate the two. Real knowledge can be gained only be activity, experiments and real life experiences. 2. EDUCATION AS GROWTH Thus education will be useful if it brings about the growth and development of the individual as well as the society in which he lives. Education is meant for the child and child is not meant for education and child is not empty bottle to be filled up by outside knowledge. Each child is born with inherent capacities, tendencies and aptitudes which are drawn out and developed by education. One of the aims of education is to develop all the inherent capacities of the child to the fullest extent. 3. EDUCATION AS A SOCIAL PROCESS To pragmatism, man is a social being. He gains more and more knowledge through personal experiences than he gets from books. According to pragmatism, the education of the child should be through the medium of society so that develops in him socially desirable qualities which promote his welfare and happiness. John Dewey rightly speaks out – Education is the social continuity of life. 4. EDUCATION A CONTINUOUS RESTRUCTURING OF EXPERIENCE Education is a process of development. Knowledge is gained by experiences and experiments, conducted by the learner himself. One exercise leads to another and so on and the area of knowledge is widened by the child. The process of reconstruction of experience goes on and leads to adjustment and development of personality. For pragmatists educational process has no end beyond itself. In addition to the individual it is continuous reorganizing restructuring and integrating the experience and activities of the race. 5. EDUCATION THE RESPONSIBILITY OF STATE Education is the birth right of each individual and may not be within the right of the individual, so the state should shoulder the responsibility. The refusal of the state to do so
  • 9. Page | 8 may not lead the nation to suffering. It is for the state to make the child capable and confident to meet the problems and challenges of life successfully. PRAGMATISM AND CURRICULUM In the field of curriculum development, the following principles have been prescribed by pragmatists.  PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY According to this principle, only those subjects, activities and experiences should be included in the curriculum which are useful to the present needs of the child and also meet the future expectations of adult life as well. As such Language, physical well-being, physical training, Geography, History, Science, Agriculture and Home science for girls should be included in the curriculum.  PRINCIPLE OF INTEREST According to this principle, only those activities and experiences where in the child takes interest should be included in the curriculum. According to John Dewey these interests are of four varieties namely, interest in conversation, interest in investigation, interest in construction and interest in creative expression. Keeping these varieties of interests in view, at the primary stage, the curriculum should include Reading, Writing, Counting, Art, Craft- work, Natural science and other practical work of simple nature.  PRINCIPLE OF EXPERIENCE The third principle of pragmatic curriculum is the child‟s activity, vocation and experience. All these three should be closely integrated. The curriculum should consist of such varieties of learning experiences which promote original thinking and freedom to develop social and purposeful attitudes.  PRINCIPLE OF INTEGRATION Pragmatic curriculum deals with the integration of subjects and activities. According to pragmatism knowledge is one unit. Pragmatists want to construct flexible, dynamic and integrated curriculum which aids the developing child and the changing society more and more as the needs, demands and situation require. PRAGMATISM AND METHODS OF TEACHING The whole emphasis of method of teaching in pragmatism is on child, not the book, or the teacher or the subject. The dominant interest of the child is “to do and to make”. The method should be flexible and dynamic. It must be adaptable and modifiable to suit the nature of the
  • 10. Page | 9 subject matter and potentiality of the students. The pragmatist‟s curriculum provides for creative and purposeful activities in the teaching- learning process. Pragmatists regard school is a‟ miniature of society‟ where child gets real experiences to act and behave according to his interests, aptitudes and capacities. Project method is a contribution of pragmatist philosophy in education. According to Kilpatrick “a project is a whole hearted purposeful activity carried out in a social environment”. The child learns by doing says John Dewey. All learning must come as a product of action. Learning by doing makes a person creative, confident and co-operative. They also emphasize the discovery and enquiry methods. The method like problem solving, play-way, experimental and laboratory techniques which follow the principle of learning by doing can be used according to pragmatic view. PRAGMATISM AND TEACHER Pragmatism regards teacher as a helper, guide and philosopher. The chief function of pragmatic teacher is to suggest problems to his pupils and to stimulate them to find by themselves, the solutions, which will work. The teacher must provide opportunities for the natural development of innate qualities of children. His main task is to suggest problems to his pupils and to guide them to find out solutions. PRAGMATISM AND DISCIPLINE To utilize the interest of the pupil is the basis of discipline here. The teacher and pupils attack a problem jointly. Teacher‟s role is that of a guide and a director; it is the pupil who acts, learning this becomes a cooperative venture- a joint enterprise. Pursuit of common purposes enforces its own order. Education becomes a social process of sharing between the members of the various groups and all are equal partners in the process. That is no rewards also there are no placing for the martinet so any punishments. The discipline proceeds from the life of the school as a whole. CONTRIBUTIONS OF PRAGMATISM TO EDUCATION  Pragmatism provides definite aims of education. The student is prepared to live in society and learn skills and attitudes. The teaching methods are based on learning by doing. The project method is the contribution of pragmatism to modern education.
  • 11. Page | 10  Pragmatism encourages a democratic way of learning through purposeful and cooperative projects and activities.  Utility in the educative process is the first criterion. The school is expected to provide learning and experiences that are useful.  Education is not bound to tradition. Pragmatic philosophers advise us to test everything through our own experience.  The teacher has to play a very challenging role in the educative process under pragmatism and he has to be very alert and watchful. IMPLICATION OF PRAGMATISM IN EDUCATION SYSTEM Across the 20th century, a Dewey‟s tradition has been kept alive in education. His texts including Democracy and Education and Experience and Education, are often read by each new generation of scholars and practitioners because of their general stance on educational reform. The interesting aspect of the question about pragmatism concerns its presence in education today. The all too quick answer is that its actual implementation is very limited but this misses major ideas and factors that determine what constitutes education. A significant clue is found in Dewey‟s Experience and Education, penned in the thirties as a response both to „traditional‟ and „progressive‟ educational practices. His point was to reconstruct the old and the new into education that is based in a substantive philosophy. This philosophy says that students‟ life experiences should determine what is taught and learned. Dewey‟s phrase for teachers is that they understand children‟s interests as well as adults‟ knowledge and in turn „psychologize‟ the curriculum. Experience and Education is a valuable resource as an overview. Any mention of the famous phrase “Learning by Doing" brings to mind John Dewey as its creator. However, in modern times Dewey identified learning by doing as the sole strategy for any kind of learning. He identified education as a kind of experience, and through saying this he actually means the same equation between what one actually does and the resultant learning. So if a student learns how to listen and take notes from a lecture, he or she only learns how to listen and taking notes. If afterwards the student memorizes the lesson notes, the student learns how to memorize things. Dewey introduced his problem solving method as a strategy to teach pragmatic approach towards life problems. In problem solving method, a student through adopting a procedure solves problems. Thus, according to the equation between what one does and so one learns, one learns how to solve problems.
  • 12. Page | 11 ALLAMA IQBAL’S VIEW PERTINENT TO EDUCATION As probably to pragmatism, AllamaIqbal‟s consistent philosophy gives a shape to a new interpretation on the experience of old era. His basic point was that the aim of education should be personality development of individual. Through different perspectives AllamaIqbal‟s thought and ideas are viewed in resemblance to John Dewey. Iqbal says, (Ah! Neither the Mulla nor the Jurist is aware of the fact That unity of thought without unity of character is incomplete and wanting.) Education must lay prime emphasis upon the character-formation of the child. Unless it goes to build up good character as well, it will never achieve its real purpose. "Character-training," says Professor W.O. Lester Smith "is closely linked with the conception of school as a society". This view is now being emphasized on different hands. Iqbal has laid great emphasis on the proper development of the individuality of man. He says that the Quranic concept of the ego stresses "the individuality and uniqueness of man and has a definite view of his destiny as a unity of life”. The development of ego is of prime importance in his way of thinking. He condemns imitation because it curbs one's individuality. He is against drama and Tamtheel for in them the actor has to adopt the role of someone else and the repetition of it leads to the assassination of one's own personality. Iqbal‟s view was that, Khudi is the determinant of the entire gamut of existence, All that Thou seestis due to the secrets of Khudi. Thus, the development of the individuality of man should be a basic tent with education.His development of the individuality can be achieved only if the child is treated with love and affection even with a certain degree of respect for his individual self and if his latent faculties are given ample opportunities for self-expression. He should breathe in an atmosphere of freedom. Education should become pupil-centered, giving him all possible opportunities to develop his creative faculties and inherent talents and aptitude.The primary emphasis on
  • 13. Page | 12 individuality does not mean that there should be any lack of social sense and collective responsibility in the students. The virtues of social consciousness and responsibility should be installed in them from the very beginning and they should be prepared for social service and responsible citizenship. CONCLUSION The foregoing discussion shows that pupil‟s immediate experiences, felt needs and purposes play a prominent part in the determination of educational programs and policies. This confirms the faith in the worth and improvability of individuals. Pragmatism puts emphasis on free flow of ideas, spirit of inquiry of investigation and discussion. Pragmatism upholds the supreme value of man and prescribes freedom of thinking, experimenting and experiencing for him. Not only this, it lays emphasis upon flexibility, utility and adjustment in all fields of human activity promoting the continuous development of individual and society to the fullest extent.Pragmatic philosophy is a practical philosophy, having no fixed or absolute standards. Man always creates new values and education should help him in doing so. Being practical and utilitarian school of philosophy, pragmatism has influenced education to the maximum extent. It has tried overcoming the limitations of other schools like idealism and naturalism and has influenced world in a great deal. REFRENCES  http://www.trinity.edu/cbrown/intro/philosophy-what.html  http://evolvingthoughts.net/2011/09/what-is-philosophy/  http://www.arn.org/realscience/kog1asample/kog-phil-chem-1a-sample.pdf  http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/oct61/5.htm  http://peacewatchkashmir.com/Articles/allama-iqbal-s-concept-of-knowledge-and-humanism.html  http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/oct82/5.htm  http://www.publishyourarticles.net/knowledge-hub/education/philosophy-of-john-dewey- pragmatism.html  https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Pragmatism.html  http://www.iep.utm.edu/pragmati/  http://dspaces.uok.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/1/1322/1/Final%20Dissertation%20of%20Iqbal.pdf  http://www.iqbal.com.pk/iis-allama-iqbal-learning-centre/books/scholarly-articles/944-allama- iqbal-studies/scholarly-articles/1668-iqbals-critique-of-democracy  Pragmatism and Education by Daniel Tröhler (Editor), Jürgen Oelkers (Editor)  Broudy, Harry S., Building a Philosophy of Education. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1961.  Frank Thilly, ³A History of philosophy´, Central Publishing House,Allahabad.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Sixth Edition, III. Impression, 1976, p-868.McDermid, D. The Varieties of Pragmatism: Truth, Realism, and Knowledge from James to Rorty. London and New York: Continuum, 2006.