Pragmatist Concept – In everyday life, philosophy and language

We explain what is pragmatic in a colloquial sense and everyday examples. Also the pragmatic in philosophy and linguistics.

language pragmatics
Pragmatics takes into account the influence of non-linguistic factors.

What is the pragmatic?

In our day to day, we use the adjective pragmatic to refer to an attitude in life that favors the useful, the practical and the concrete, and not the abstract, the theoretical and the ideal.

We call people with this trait pragmatic, and in general they are considered ideal for making immediate decisions in an efficient way, since they do not tend to go around the bush or get involved in useless considerations. At the same time, they are usually considered more “earthy” people, less given to reflection and imagination.

However, this use is hardly a colloquial and common sense of the word, whose origins go back to the Greek pragmatikós, with which they used to name the skilled people to negotiate. The term can be used, to roughly, to refer to any approach in any matter, as long as it privileges the practical over the theoretical.

Instead, pragmatism is a philosophical doctrine born in the United States in the late nineteenth century, fruit of the thought of Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910) and John Dewey (1859-1952).

According to its own creators, it was more a way of thinking than a philosophical current, whose central postulate can be summarized in that theory must be extracted from practice (and not vice versa), and then applied to practice itself (that is, , to their improvement) in order to achieve an intelligent practice.

Pragmatism, true to its pragmatic attitude, did not become a theoretical current, but was applied unevenly to different areas of human knowledge: education, psychology, law, politics, etc., always in pursuit of the recovery of reason and human values ​​to obtain intelligent and liberating actions, responsible in all areas of human life.

This current dominated thought in the United States until World War II, when it gave way to neopositivism and different religious conceptions of spiritual life.

Examples of Pragmatism in Everyday Life

A pragmatic attitude in everyday life is one that focuses on the practical resolution of inconveniences and not on theoretically ruminating what should be done. The following situations can be examples of this:

  • When it comes to cooking, a pragmatic person make a meal from the food in the pantryEven if you have to disobey or reinvent the recipe, instead of following it to the letter or going so far as to discard it if it lacks ingredients.
  • A pragmatic person prefers buy the most useful and necessary instruments for your work, instead of those that have a neater appearance or that may be ornamental.
  • When a political party decides to make a pact With a party with a contrary ideological tendency, in which both will benefit from quotas of power, it can be said that it is exercising politics in a very pragmatic way.

Basic principles of the philosophical current of pragmatism

The fundamental postulate of philosophical pragmatism was enunciated by Pierce in the nineteenth century, as the “principle of pragmatism”, and dictates that the meaning of the truth can only be determined by its usefulness in the life. This means that the unique value of things is the value that determines their usefulness, their ability to solve problems in concrete life.

Thus, for example, philosophical discussions are resolved, from a pragmatic point of view, by comparing their “practical” consequences: the truth, then, is what works best for us. That is, that which satisfies the subjective interests of the individual.

Pragmatics of language

In the field of linguistics, on the other hand, it is known as pragmatics or pragmalinguistics to a discipline that studies the context of language meaningsIn other words, it studies the situation in which the linguistic act is carried out, taking into account the influence and relevance in communication of all non-linguistic factors.

Thus, pragmatics studies what accompanies language: gestures, proxemics, the physical elements present in the communicative situation, the knowledge shared by the speakers, etc. Everything that does not concern semantics, because it is not linguistic (that is, because it has nothing to do with language itself), is then within the area of ​​interest of pragmatics.