Let’s Get Vulgar

by Stanley Kurtz

Paul Mirengoff has some further thoughts on whether philosophical pragmatism and leftist ideology are legitimately compatible. Not being a student of philosophical pragmatism, I don’t have an answer to that question. In practice, some philosophical pragmatists are also leftists, whether that’s philosophically justified or not. The issues of definition are slippery here, and I think Mirengoff’s original post got the underlying political point exactly right. The impression created by describing Obama as a pragmatist of any sort, philosophical or commonsensical, is highly misleading. Over at Contentions, J. E. Dyer reinforces Mirengoff’s original point. Jonah points out that philosophical pragmatism has been pretty much a convenient and intentionally misleading labeling opportunity for leftist ideologues all along. I wouldn’t be the least surprised. I’ve taught political philosophy and I’m no anti-intellectual, but I think a healthy dose of “vulgar” pragmatism is in order here. When in doubt, ignore the philosophical smokescreen and pay attention to the leftist politics.

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