The Symphonic Juncture

A [Symphonist]: "The one who is not afraid to raise the primal force."

- Boris Asafiev (1917)

Re-Constitution of the '8 Theses of Pragmatism'

In 1986, Robert Almeder published his article, “A Definition of Pragmatism” where, in eight codified points, he used the name ‘Theses,’ he delineated the building blocks of Pragmatism, utilizing the writings of Peirce, James, Dewey and Lewis, all notable, late 19th-century Philosophers who permanently transformed American Psychology and its related disciplines. Charles Peirce is regarded the ‘Father of pragmatism,’ William James, the ‘Father of American psychology,’ John Dewey, among the founders of American Pragmatism and writer of notable works like, “The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology,” an article published in 1896 which reinterpreted the “'psychologist's fallacy,” constituted by William James, from the perspective of ‘stimulus’ and ‘response,’ the former producing the latter, insinuating that neither could be intrinsically separated from each other. Finally, there was Clarence Irving Lewis, purported father of analytical psychology in the United States, and ‘father of modern modal logic,’ in 1912 creating some of the first axiomatic models displaying modal logic, and ruminations such as, “...a false proposition implies any proposition, and a true proposition is implied by any proposition,” being among some of the more simple conjectural notions put forth.


I am not suggesting, by my simple elucidations made here, that I comprehend fully the intricacies of American Pragmatism and its multifarious layers of ‘what is truth’ and teleological thought. Rather, I hope by briefly working through each of the eight fundamentals of Pragmatism laid out by Almeder, a reader can gain a working understanding of the logical complexities that comprise the practical ‘Theory of Knowledge,’ whose ‘aim’ is to properly clarify the effects of one’s theories and ideological ruminations, although what one considers ‘truth’ is highly contested, and leads to no confirmed answer. In efforts to truncate the length of my rationalizations, I refer interested parties to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a full explanation of the principle of Pragmatism, as I will only cover the observations gathered by Almeder, due to length and fear of self-digressions, which only will confound one who is searching for an easily ascertainable definition of Pragmatic thought.


Firstly, Almeder says that ‘human knowing’ is charged with the goal of maintaining homeostasis with the natural world, where we seek to generate beliefs and systems of beliefs that allow us to successfully ingrain ourselves in the world with a high probability of beneficiality towards those acting in the world itself. ‘Human inquiry,’ by the Pragmatic standard, then is where man attempts to leave the state of disillusionment, and enter into the functional world of profitable, intellectual methodology. Secondly, those beliefs and system of beliefs that we have now adopted are to be assessed for their applicability factor by the way that they are able to yield results that actually benefit the human’s attainment of ‘deeper biological needs,’ namely the necessity to formulate a coherent understanding of the world insofar as we are able to properly carry ourselves, thereby keeping ourselves alive and out of harm's way. Here, Almeder mentions that B. and S. of B. [Beliefs and Systems of Beliefs] are held only until they become no longer functionally useful, leading to the epistemologically mundane question of ‘how can one truly define helpful,’ here defined as producing results leading to a higher quality of life. Thirdly, in quite a straightforward terminological delivery, Almeder states that B. and S. of B. are established by a set of functions [truths] to which we have assigned certain characteristics to. Thus, if we redefine what those functions equate to, in other words, we restructure the truth-value of our beliefs, we are then forced into an ideological corner with only two options. Either destroy the previously held belief entirely or radically revise the patterning to corroborate the newly identified truth factors. The parallel to mathematics is made here, namely if x is 4 and y is 5, then together they make 9. But, that doesn’t mean that x+y is only 9, as the belief that 9 is the conglomerated result of x and y only came about because of their attributed numerical amounts, otherwise known as their truth values. He references the Aristotelian concept that eternal truths are non-existent, as nothing is exempt from alteration on the observation of newly derived evidence which challenges the belief previously held as ‘law.’


Fourth, on the list of principles, Almeder directs our cognition to the test of ‘sensible/sensory’ outcome as the definer of the ‘true,’ the belief system’s ability to aid or hinder man’s existence, and the role of the natural sciences in the creation of positive belief systems. Here, Soviet Musicological methodology starts to weave itself into the debate of Pragmatism, as a central principle to their goal of finding the Universal la