Pragmatism is midway between Idealism and Naturalism. It is an American philosophy typical in nature and practical in approach. The term pragmatism is derived from the Greek word ‘Pragma’ which means activity or the work done. Pragmatism is also known as Experimentalism because pragmatists believe experiment as the only criterion of Truth.
It is noted that the fundamental start of Pragmatism is change. In this sense, no truth is permanent. It is always changing from time to time, from place to place.
To them only those ideals and values are true which result in some utility to mankind in a certain set of circumstances, place or time. It is intimately connected with human life and human welfare, that is why, it is called as a humanistic philosophy of life.
Idealism is psycho-centric, Naturalism is neutron-centric and Pragmatism is anthropocentric, according to which, men own experiences are the centers of reality and truth. Idealist looks before and after and pines for what are not, naturalists look to present needs and problems and have no concern for future, Pragmatist looks here and now.
Idealist constructs a transcendental ideal which is beyond man’s realization. Naturalists follow the principle of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest.
Pragmatists are practical people believing in finishing the book here, solving the problem now, making the social contact immediately, striking the business deal at once. Whatever they wish to do, they examine its utility and do ‘it immediately.
Idealists live in the world of ideals. Naturalists live in the lap of nature. Pragmatists live in the world of facts. Pragmatism makes ‘activity’, ‘engagement’, ‘commitment’, and ‘encounter’ its central theme.
Different philosophers and educationists have defined pragmatism as follows:-
According to Prett, “Pragmatism offers a theory of knowledge, a theory of truth and a theory of reality.”
According to William James, “Pragmatism is a temper of mind, an attitude, it is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth, and finally it is a theory of reality.”
According to Ross, “Pragmatism is essentially a humanistic philosophy maintaining that man creates his own values in course of activity, that reality is still in making and awaits its part of completion from that future.”
According to Dr. Prem Nath, “The nature of Pragmatism is naturalistic, its duration is scientific and practicable and its aim is social and humanistic.”
Pragmatism is definitely a foreign ideology. In modem times, the introduction of pragmatism to human life was first done by American philosopher G.S. Pearce in 1878 A.D. He asserted, “Our beliefs are really the rules for action”.
Due to inhuman cruelties in England, thousands of the oppressed people migrated from their native countries in Europe to America. The new way of thinking led them to new types of activities and new ways of learning by doing and by consequences and experiences.