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Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy Paperback – April 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0253215192 ISBN-10: 0253215196 Edition: First Printing

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Printing edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253215196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253215192
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"... [T]his is an interesting and insightful study of the origins of American pragmatism." —Choice, November 2002



Accepting the common view that pragmatism is the uniquely American philosophy, Pratt (Univ. of Oregon) maintains that much of what American philosophy is known for can be traced to its origins in the borderlands between Europe and America and its 'originality' to well—established aspects of Native American thought. At these borderlands, he discerns the emergence of an attitude of resistance to the attitudes of European colonialism. This new attitude drove commitments to interaction, pluralism, community, and growth, the core of pragmatic thought. He plumbs Native American thought for sources of these commitments; he argues for the influence of a Native Prophetic movement on Benjamin Franklin, whose ideas in turn influenced the initial formulation of pragmatism by Peirce and James. He also asserts a prominent role for Native thought in the development of the women's movement. Readers may be skeptical regarding the extent to which Native thought shaped pragmatism, and Pratt admits that his volume is not intended as a comprehensive history, but rather as an additional perspective. Read as such, this is an interesting and insightful study of the origins of American pragmatism. For general readers and upper—division undergraduates through faculty.S. C. Pearson, emeritus, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Read as such, this is an interesting and insightful study of the origins of American pragmatism. For general readers and upper—division undergraduates through faculty., Choice, November 2002

About the Author

Scott L. Pratt is Associate Professor of Philosophy and head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Oregon. He received his B. A. in philosophy from Beloit College (Wisconsin) and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He teaches American Philosophy and the history of Modern European Philosophy, and is co-editor of American Philosophies: An Anthology and The Philosophical Writings of Cadwallader Colden.


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J.W.K on September 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
As with hardened stereotypes, prejudices and daily routines, the larger structures of thought - indeed, entire philosophical systems - have a way hardening into caked, inflexible habits, resistant to change. Here in Native Pragmatism, professor Scott Pratt argues that pragmatism, that unique philosophical tradition which grew up in America, is no exception. In the introduction, he describes his project as follows: "I wish to present a different history of pragmatism that traces its origins along the border between Native and European America in a context significantly conditioned by Native American thought." The result is a work that both enlarges and reconstructs the entire American philosophical tradition.
The word pragmatism usually evokes the names of three white men of European descent - specifically, Peirce, James and Dewey, the three classic pragmatists. Whereas past historians of philosophy have tended to over emphasize the white, European influences of these thinkers (which Pratt does not dispute), this book attempts to counter-balance the story with new, alternative, particularly female and non-European influences that arose from the borderland of Native and European cultures. Along with the traditional pragmatists, Pratt has widened the cast to include such figures as Lydia Maria Child, Colden Cadwallader, Alice Chipman (John's first wife), Roger Williams, Metacom, Miantonomi, Neolin, Sagoyewatha, and Teedyuscung among others. Weaving in and out of their stories, Pratt unearths a wealth of interactions and connections that have hitherto been overlooked. In effect, he takes us deeper into the lived experience that served to inspire and instruct American philosophy.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Hamington on September 20, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is all too common to treat the philosophical perspective known as American Pragmatism as if the field begins and ends with the works of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Native Pragmatism by Scott L. Pratt is part of a growing body of work that recognizes the ongoing contribution of women, indigenous people, and people of color to American Philosophy. The book is a tightly woven argument that begins with an exploration of the origins of American philosophy, including an important discussion of what constitutes philosophy. From there, the book logically progresses through key moments and movements in North American history, primarily focusing on the influence of Native American thought on pragmatic theory. Pratt's notion of "colonial attitude" versus "indigenous attitude" act as useful organizing principals and his discussion of the "logic of place" and the "logic of home" are both carefully worked out and help explain many of the conflicts in the history of colonial and indigenous peoples. Ultimately, the reader is left with a new perspective on American history as well as better understanding of the many, and continually evolving, influences on American philosophy
What makes this an intriguing read is how Pratt integrates fascinating, and often little-known, historical anecdotes. When I picked up this book, I expected to have a compelling argument regarding the recovery of over-looked traditions, what I found surprising was the thorough overview of the European antecedents of American Pragmatism as well as an excellent review of the basic tenets of this philosophical tradition.
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This book is important for several reasons:
1. It offers an alternative account of the emergence of Pragmatism, one that is well researched and documented.
2. It revitalizes the Pragmatist’s approach and reinstates major theses of this important school of thought.
3. It summarizes several ideas prominent in traditional Native American thinking, ideas that could and should be influential as American philosophy moves into the future.
Professor Pratt’s writing is carefully organized, rigorous in its scholarship, clear and concise.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Erin McKenna on October 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Native Pragmatism is a great book. Pratt provides one of the MOST articulate and useful summaries of the tradition of American Pragmatism. He also provides a fair as well as critical look at the literature that has been written about Pragmatism. He does not disagree with histories that trace the roots of American Pragmatism back to Europe, but he does ask the reader to consider some additional influences. Pratt's account of possible Native American influences on a range of American thinkers is quite thought provoking, as is his inclusion of several key women thinkers. His account provides some explanation for how the central thinkers of this tradition were able to so radically transform their understanding of philosophy, of the individual, of knowledge, of life. American Pragmatism still represents a challenge to learn "the lessons of a way of thinking that is committed to the importance of interaction and pluralism, the necessity of community, and the value of growth, that is, by recovering the ways of understanding and acting indigenous to American, we also gain the possibility of a flourishing pluralist society" (289). Erin McKenna, Pacific Lutheran University
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