The Originality of William James's Pragmatism
- Jeong, Sangjun
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.16, pp. 107-123
- In the domain of thought the United States was largely dependent upon Europe in its
earlier years. Political independence in 1776 did not mean cultural independence as well.
Puritanism, rationalism, the Unitarian movement, and transcendentalism were the adaptations of the European concepts to the new conditions of American life. In their depth and breadth, they could not compete with the European counterparts. When Alexis de Tocqueville obsenred that Americans had no philosophical school of their own, his judgment was substantially true. He further suggested that Americans had little interest in
the philosophical matters. At the same time, however, he pointed out that Americans had
a philosophical method common to the whole people. According to Tocqueville (1948: 3),
Americans had a tendency "to accept the tradition as III means of imonnation, and existing facts only as a lesson tOi be used in dOling OItherwise and dOling better; to seek the reason of things for oneself, and in oneself alone; to tend to results vvithout being bound to means.'" Although the validity of this claim is debatable, it is interesting that his observation has
much in common with what is usually accepted as the basic traits of American pragmatism.
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