A particularly edifying one, from a reader:
I, for one, am ready to listen to any argument showing the connections between pragmatism and fascism, so blast away.
But I would like to make points — just in case you haven’t already addressed them:
One, the “will to believe” paper, according to James himself, is not pragmatism. At least, he explicitly says that it is not part of his exposition on the particular doctrine he calls pragmatism. He clearly felt that it was a paper that stood by itself. the merit of the paper is in exposing the self-defeating character and defeasibility conditions of a positivistic evidentialism. He insisted that one really had to suspend judgment if evidence was not sufficient unless certain conditions were really satisfied. Example, an event really had to be a crisis, not just be spun like one, to justify immediate action prior to all the evidence being in.
Two, as Nicholas Rescher points out, there is a pragmatism of the Left and a pragmatism of the Right, where “Left” and “Right” refer more to philosophical persuasions rather than political ones. Both and Susan Haack are philosophers in the American pragmatic tradition that are concerned that Rorty has stolen the microphone. Rescher points out that this distinction was already apparent in the difference between James (the first “left wing pragmatist”) and Charles Sanders Pierce (the first “right wing pragmatist”) among the founders of the American pragmatist school of thought. To oversimplify, the difference comes down to the difference between treating methods of inquiry as means to the end of understanding (the right) or as ends in themselves. If the latter, then that leads to a plurality of different schemes all seen to be valuable for their subjective satisfaction to different people. But if the former, then methods have consequences which serve as a basis for estimating their value and which lead to informed judgments about their role in understanding.
So I am wondering if different pragmatisms lead to different observations in relation to fascism. Pragmatism is essentially empiricism and like empiricism depending on how you do it, it can lead either to Hume or to Aristotle.
Cheering for you, John
PS since i am writing I must say that I think that LF has gone from being “stimulating” to “mandatory”.