Mind and the World Order

Clarence Irving Lewis is a transitional figure from early century American Pragmatism to mid-century Analytic philosophy. His writings and teaching at Harvard inspired the generation of Analytic philosophy that rose to prominence in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Influenced by Kant and influencing Quine, his Mind and the World Order (1929) develops Lewis’ views on logic and pragmatism into a unique epistemology “conceptual pragmatism.” Lewis insists that empirical belief and a priori belief are interconnected. In conceptual pragmatism a person brings their interests, motivations, social and psychological background to bear on the act of turning given sense data into empirical knowledge. This background is not the universal and absolute a priori that we see in Kant but constitutes a pragmatic a priori and is in some ways derived from past experiences.

This highly influential and respected work is seldom read or taught today but its unique insights into the theory of knowledge deserve greater attention.

For those who don’t have the time to read the entire book, his short essay “A Pragmatic Conception of the a priori” (1922) is a good introduction to some of the key ideas and approach that he develops in Mind and the World Order:

“A Pragmatic Conception of the a priori” (1922) is in Susan Haack’s Pragmatism: Old and New and it is also available online here: http://www.informationphilosopher.com/knowledge/philosophers/lewis/Pragmatic_a_priori.html


~ by severalfourmany on May 14, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: