the natural struggle between pragmatism and
idealism it seems it should be expected that people would define
themselves as either one or the other. Of course, there are plenty of
other people who have no interest in the issue. Many people don't
identify as being either. But some people will say that they are
idealists, while some will say that they are pragmatists. People seem
to act as if they are picking camps, as if they must choose a side in
a battle. I, however, submit that there is another way. I would say
that I am a “pragmatic-idealist”.
this discussion continues, what pragmatism and
what idealism mean should be addressed. On the surface of it, the
differences between pragmatism and idealism would suggest that they
might well be mutually exclusive concepts. I should first clarify
that I'm not talking about the respective philosophies. Idealism, in
the sense that I and most people mean, is not the philosophy of
“Idealism” but rather a view, or an attitude, that the current
state of affairs is faulty and that we should pursue a better
condition. Also pragmatism, in the sense used here and commonly, is
likewise not the philosophy of “Pragmatism” but rather the view,
or attitude, that in order to accomplish something we must be willing
to consider the alternative options or do what is necessary. Though,
'pragmatism' in the sense I use it here and the philosophy of
Pragmatism are much closer than the way I'm using 'idealism' here and
the philosophy of Idealism.
people who are idealistic look at those who would
take a more pragmatic approach as if they were traitors to the cause.
This, however, is a disservice to the cause itself. Those ardent
idealists are ignoring a fundamental fact; that is that some progress
is better than no progress. Also, if the idealists disavow the more
pragmatic members of the cause they will diminish the power of their
movement. Sometimes we cannot have the full progress we'd prefer. But
if we sell out the goal for the sake of inflexible ideology we should
not be surprised when we completely fail altogether. Having 'vision'
alone cannot accomplish great deeds.
pragmatism, in and of itself, cannot give guidance.
We can be prepared to take whatever action may be necessary to
accomplish some act, but without some idea of what we want to achieve
what would be the point? Pragmatism is the art of getting done what
can be done. Central to this is the concept of compromise. There is a
necessary give-and-take involved in just about any problem solving
effort. The pragmatic person understands the need to analyze the
problem, learns about the issues involved, and has an understanding
of how the various possible courses of action will affect them.
a sense, the problem is that we are here and the
solution is to get over there. In this way, idealism is the compass
which points us in the direction, while pragmatism is the ship which
makes the journey possible. So the fact is that we do not face a
choice between idealism or pragmatism. The choice is between being
only idealistic or being pragmatically idealistic. There is no
dichotomy between the idealism which says this is how it is and that
is what it ought to be, and the pragmatism that says this is the
problem and this is what can be done about it.
Copyright © 2011 by Joshua