People used to believe truth existed as a provable concept. We now accept we can disprove things, and what we know is approximate.

Once you accept the pragmatic, this works, it has consequences that are significant to take into account, one has the basis for calling this truth.

Science works like this, but philosophy seems overcome with cynicism where the worst case scenario is accepted as if it is reality, when reality is just an acceptance everything is a pragmatic compromise. We live each day on this basis, go to school, do business, trade, work etc.

So rather than let our centres of existence be our guide, it seems without a logical framework of existence, everything must just be rejected and replaced with chaos and chance. Our very hearts declare this is not who we are, but why do we so easily abandon care and purpose for chaos?

The ironic thing for a board that suggests opinions are not the goal only facts and expert insight, the fact being made here is, is this actually possible in the final analysis. If the fact it is not, this is not an opinion it is a fact. In other words we are limited by our own existence, and must rely on assumptions and compromises to function.

Is it possible that being definitive in philosophy is what people want to claim, rather than philosophy being the language of what is knowable through suggestion and discussion. Has science become the new belief in absolutes, scientific ones, as if science through empirical experiments is the only why to define our world?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Further comments will be removed.
    – user2953
    May 9, 2018 at 5:00

2 Answers 2


Peter, to provide a more direct answer to your question it may be helpful to compare Russell and John Dewey. Here is a book by Bertrand Russell, and if memory serves, Dewey comes into play. https://archive.org/details/BertrandRussell-AnInquaryIntoMeaningAndTruth And here is a book which covers two pragmatists, William James and John Dewey. https://archive.org/details/readingsintwenti00alst I hope this helps since pragmatism was not addressed in the comments. P. S. I am sorry that the Russell book is not a very good scan. It is possible that there is a duplicate on Internet Archive.

  • Thank you for this. I have not read such expositions, but then this is probably obvious from the way I am expressing my points.
    – PeterJens
    May 8, 2018 at 21:53
  • @PeterJens Another thing. NotHere mentions Davidson and Rorty. At one time there was a great discussion between these two philosophers on YouTube. It goes on for a long time, and it can get tedious, but I wanted you to know in case you did not know about it.
    – Gordon
    May 8, 2018 at 22:10
  • @PeterJens you are expressing your points well. I think you may particularly like the second book I posted above, because it includes Whitehead, and Bergson too. So it has a good selection of philosophers. It even includes Russell so there is no need for you to jump into the first book unless you want to.
    – Gordon
    May 9, 2018 at 1:29

why do we so easily abandon care and purpose for chaos?

I think it is because we are black and white thinkers. That is, we say to ourselves: if we can't prove things with certainty, then, well, every belief is just as 'true' as any other. So, yes, if no logic and objectivity ... then chaos and total subjectivity.

... which is of course a false dilemma brought on by our need to see things in simplistic black or white terms. Indeed, many of us go through these phases as we grow up: first we think that there are clear answers to everything (our elementary and high school teachers certainly make things out to be that way!). Then, we get to college, and our professors suddenly ask us a few questions ... and we revert to claiming things like: "We can't know anything! Everything is relative!". Of course, this move, from 'everything is black and white' to 'everything is equally gray' is still a black and white move.

But that phase, fortunately, will pass too: we recognize that while in science we can't prove general principles with 100% certainty, we can nevertheless show that some theories are much more likely than others. And as you say, we are typically quite pragmatic about things in day to day life, thank goodness: we know that cats are fluffy, jumping off cliffs without a parachute is a bad idea, and salad shooters serve little purpose.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.