Pragmatism, Possibility, and Human Development


  • Stephen Rowe Grand Valley State University



pragmatism, humanism, existentialism, nihilism, humanity, democracy


Pragmatism emerges from the loss of tradition as a source of life-guidance, and awareness of the insufficiency of modernity to provide a viable alternative. It arises from an existential crisis and decision through which one is able to move beyond nihilism to life-affirmation. It entails the developed understanding that articulation of one’s affirmation is inherently limited and subject to revision as one grows in the depth and breadth of the root decision. Orientation to the intellect, at that point, is quite different from that which most Western people inherit, such that one’s philosophy can no longer be understood as a system which is fixed in correspondence with Reality itself, but rather as provisional statement of ideals, commitments, and hypotheses. This statement is then subject to refinement in an ongoing developmental process, especially based on one’s democratic or dialogical encounter with others, and a spirituality of openness to the radically ineffable source of life. In this way pragmatism both reflects and contributes to a global movement toward a more mature form of humanity.


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How to Cite

Rowe, S. (2016). Pragmatism, Possibility, and Human Development. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 23(2), 175–187.