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Anthony Gottleib, reviewer, misunderstands Peirce, Pragmaticism and Lord knows how much else

‘America the Philosophical,’ by Carlin Romano - NYTimes.com:

By ANTHONY GOTTLIEB
Published: June 28, 2012
"What of the idea that Americans are inherently practical? Many of the country’s best-known intellectuals have certainly liked to think of themselves that way. America’s principal homegrown school of philosophy is, after all, the pragmatism of C. S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey, which was born at Harvard in the 1870s. According to pragmatism, our theories should be judged by their practical value rather than by their accuracy in representing the world. The ultimate fate of this idea was neatly put by a great American philosophical wit, Sidney Morgenbes­ser, who said it was all very well in theory, but didn’t work in practice. He meant that pragmatism sounds like a good ruse, but it emerges as either trivial or incoherent when you try to flesh it out. There are weaker strains of philosophical pragmatism, which investigate the meaning of our concepts by looking at how we use them. But this idea is mainly the property of Wittgenstein, who may have been gay but was certainly not ­American."

'via Blog this'

This is one of the most ill-informed paragraphs I have ever had the misfortune to read.

To say that pragmatism was born in the 1870s without giving exclusive attribution to Charles Sanders Peirce is simply false.

To fail to explain that Peirce renamed his philosophy pragmaticism after it was widely misunderstood is understandable but adds to the ineptitude of this text.

Noting that Peirce was explicitly barred from a career at Harvard  would be too much to expect.

But the most idiotic thing above is the careless statement that pragmatism ranks practicality above accuracy. It is clear the reviewer has no acquaintance with Peirce, who may well have had an over-reliance on scientific method. Accuracy was hardly absent as Peirce's goal. And practicality was not among his virtues.

This review is insignificant in the scheme of things. But it demonstrates yet again that when it comes to America's greatest intellect smaller minds continue to enjoy an evident feeding frenzy.



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A Setting for a Poem "Denial" Beloved by the Greek People by the Nobel Prize Winning Poet Giorgos Seferis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhk0ckaCxDI
The remarkable video at the link above is of a performance of "Sto perigiali" Mario Frangoulis and Mikis Theodorakis in 2001.

Frangoulis and Theodorakis are joined by musicians, including two bouzouki players, and a very large audience that is completely familiar with the words. The audience joins in at Frangoulis' prompt.

This is my very favorite Theodorakis melody. Those who know Theodorakis only for his "Zorba" music are in for a treat. When I was in Athens in 1966, for a short period of study with Constantinos Doxiadis, I knew nothing of Theodorakis. But about five years later, my friend Irene Vassos sang "Sto perigiali" to us. I have never gotten the tune out of my mind.

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Stephen C. Rose Bio

Stephen C. Rose (1936-) was born in New York City and raised there. He currently lives there. He was educated at Trinity, Exeter, Williams and Union Theological Seminary. He served in the Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. He founded and edited the prize-winning Renewal Magazine in Chicago and studied with C. A. Doxiadis in Athens. His first books "The Grass Roots Church" and "Who's Killing The Church" established him as a prominent critic of American Protestantism and American religion. He was and remains a civil rights activist. He has interviewed and done in depth pieces on Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King, Jr. He won awards for editorial courage and for two documentary films. He has written and published many songs and musical works including "We Are All Americans". During the late 90s and early 2000s he worked for UN agencies, most recently editing CHOICES Magazine at UNDP. Since 2000 he has written several books for distribution via K…