Pragmatism and phenomenology

Lecture by Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy, University of Memphis, USA.

Title: Pragmatism and Phenomenology

Abstract:  Connections between classic pragmatist ideas (as found in the works of Peirce, James and Dewey) and classic phenomenological ideas (as found in Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty) are often noted, but typically in third-person commentary. Beyond such commentary, these connections are exploited in different, but limited ways by Dreyfus in his analysis of expertise, and in neo-pragmatists like Rorty who makes use of important conceptual relations between Heidegger and Dewey. I note that Rorty was informed by debates about pragmatism and science in analytic philosophy in the 1960s and 70s. More recently (only since about 2007), much has been made of the ‘pragmatic turn’ that emerges in action-oriented or enactive approaches to cognition, which are even more directly informed by phenomenology. I’ll argue that these enactive approaches are better positioned than neo-pragmatism to integrate pragmatism and phenomenology, but that enactivism can learn an important lesson from the older analytic debates about science.