Important Fundamental Principles of Pragmatism are given below:
The main principle of pragmatic philosophy is that man creates his own values during the course of activity. There are no fixed values for all times to come. Even truths are man-made products. There is nothing like absolute truth.
According to pragmatism,
“Whatever fulfils man’s purpose and desires and develops his life, is true. Truth is that which gives satisfactory results when put into practice.”
Pragmatism lays a special stress on the value of experimentation. It stands for testing every statement by finding out its practical implications. If these implications are desirable, the statement is accepted, otherwise rejected. Man is always carrying out various experiments in his life.
But no judgment is possible before an experiment is tested by experience. Only that thing is good and beautiful which emerges our useful after experimentation. John Dewey says, “I affirm that the term ‘pragmatic’ means only the rule of referring all thinking, all reflective consideration, to consequences for final meaning and test.”
Pragmatism believes that philosophy is not simply wisdom of the past. True philosophy is one that helps in the solution of practical problems of life. John Dewey says, “Philosophy in order to be philosophy should have meaning and utility in the solution of human problems.
It should be practical and useful in the solution of human problems and in influencing the conduct of life and not a passive enquiry or contemplation.” According to pragmatism, “Philosophy is thinking what to do in a life situation and it is brought into existence when problems occur.”
Pragmatism believes that growth of human personality takes place because of interaction with environment. Man tries to adjust himself to his environment and this result in his growth. During the process of adjustment man not only adopts himself to his environment but he also tries to mould the environment according to his needs, purpose and desires.
Pragmatism has deep faith in democracy. It is only through democracy that an individual can realize the maximum development of his personality. This development is possible only in a social context. Individual development also leads to the development of society. Thus a democratic social order is considered essential for the healthy growth of individuals. In such a society, there is maximum sharing of experiences among the individual members.
Pragmatism believes that reality is in the making. Truth is that which works in practical situation. Whatever fulfils one’s purpose and develops his life, is true. So it is a revolt against traditionalism and absolutism.
Pragmatism is an utilitarian philosophy which holds that the reality of a principle lies in its utility. Any idea or thing which is useful to us is proper and right. In case it is of no use. It is improper, wrong and untrue. In other words only those ideas and things are true which have a utility for man’. In the words of Willian James, “It is true because it is useful.”
Pragmatism emphasises on the power of man to a great extent. By virtue of this power, a man can create an environment useful, beneficial and conducive to his own development and welfare of society.
Pragmatism believes that nothing is fixed and final in this world. Everything grows changes and develops. In other words, the world is changing and everything is under the process of change. Human life is also changing.
To Pragmatists future is more helpful and bright in comparison with the present. The world is still in the process of formation and development. Man is to aid this process of formation to such an extent that all the needs and requirements of human beings are fully satisfied. In this sense pragmatic attitude is optimistic, developing and progressive.
Pragmatism lays great emphasis on activity rather than on ideas. Pragmatists hold the view that ideas are born out of activities. Man is an active being. Thus the greatest contribution of pragmatism to education is the principle of “Learning by doing “.