Time for Pragmatism

In Josh Gert (ed.), Neopragmatism. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Are the distinctions between past, present and future, and the apparent ‘passage’ of time, features of the world in itself, or manifestations of the human perspective? Questions of this kind have been at the heart of metaphysics of time since antiquity. The latter view has much in common with pragmatism, though few in these debates are aware of that connection, and few of the view’s proponents think of themselves as pragmatists. For their part, pragmatists are often unaware of this congenial application of their methodology; some associate pragmatism with the other side of the old debate in the metaphysics of time. In my view, this link between time and pragmatism only scratches the surface of the deep two-way dependencies between these two topics. The human temporal perspective turns out to be deeply implicated not merely in our temporal notions themselves, but in many other conceptual categories – arguably, in fact, in all of them, and in the nature of language and thought. In this way, reflection on our own temporal character vindicates James’ famous slogan for global pragmatism: ‘The trail of the human serpent is thus over everything.’

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Huw Price
University of Bonn

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