Pragmatist inkling?

I’m beginning to suspect praxis is knowledge viewed from the inside… the essential counterpart to what is apparent when knowledge self-reflects or presents itself as knowledge. Consider this possible developmental process: 1) knowledge begins as an instinctive response to a novel situation, 2a) then the response is iterated and refined within the same and similar situations, 2b) and the refined response is demonstrated and imitated between subjects who participate in the interation and refinement process, 3) then the response is reflectively stabilized through analogies and models, and becomes a verbally communicable practice then finally 4) vocabulary is developed for the practice.

I’m sure I’ll see this in Rorty once I start him, because practically I began thinking like a pragmatist back in 2005, when I had to imitate Bernstein’s manner of thinking in order to follow him (learned the steps of his intellectual dance). That is the only way to understand philosophy as such. Since then I’ve applied Bernstein’s ideas and style to many problems – including design problems and political problems I’ve encountered at work. I’ve also found that same style of thought in Wittgenstein and the smattering of pragmatist thought I’ve read. Now I am interested in learning the vocabulary and the ethics of the pragmatist community.


I’ve worked intensely and uninterruptedly for 40 months, to be able to say this (relatively) clearly: Hermeneutics is spiritual pragmatism. By spirit, I mean the intellect, but not the intellect that is the mental dimension of an essentially corporeal reality. Spirit is intellect acknowledged as the ground of reality.

Reading hermeneutically is navigating the author’s subjectivity by the objects of his inquiries. The real goal of hermeneutics is not to acquire facts, nor even to uncover the structure by which the author orders his factual reality, but rather to learn to think with the author through his work, and eventually to be able to approach problems as the author would approach them. Such practical knowledge cannot be transferred mind-to-mind across the membrane of individual subjectivities as reflective theoretical knowledge can. It requires gradual merging of wills, until one’s intellectual movements spontaneously mirror or at least play off the movements of the other, and understanding flows in without sharp anomalies or blurry romantic notions.

Hermeneutics is intellectual dance; it is spiritual pragmatism; and it is trans-subjective transcendental phenomenology. It all takes place in the borders between whole and part, mastery and tentative participation, insidedness and outsidedness, in knowing how to know when you do not yet know, and knowing the kinds of knowing one might have or not yet expect.

I set out to account for what it was exactly that Nietzsche did to me. He taught me the dance of dances.

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