Difference Between Pragmatism and Progressivism

Key Difference – Pragmatism vs Progressivism
 

 

Pragmatism and progressivism are two schools of philosophy or else traditions of philosophy between which a key difference can be identified. Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that emerged in the 1870s that highlighted the importance of practicality and experience over principles and doctrine. Progressivism was a philosophical tradition that highlighted that human development or the improvement of human conditions relied very much on scientific, technological, social and economical development. As you can see, the key difference between pragmatism and progressivism is that the emphasis on the two philosophical traditions is different from one another. While pragmatism highlights on practicality and experience, progressivism highlights on human progress. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two philosophical traditions while gaining an understanding of each philosophical branch.

What is Pragmatism?

Pragmatism as the name suggests itself was a philosophical movement that emerged in the 1870s that highlighted the importance of practicality and experience over principles and doctrine. Pragmatists believed that philosophical thought should aim at instrumental usage. Some of the key figures of this movement were members of the Metaphysical Club. They are Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey, Chauncey Wright, George Herbert Mead and William James. The influence of pragmatists was to be seen in many disciplines such as science, metaphysics, ethics, education, language, religion, logic, etc.

The impact that pragmatism had on the society can be understood very well when examining the ideas of Jon Dewey. Dewey was keenly interested in the education of children in the United States. He noticed how the education system operated where the teacher would impart knowledge to the student and the student would merely absorb the information. According to Dewey’s perception, education should go beyond an endeavor and be linked to the human experience. He highlighted how education should not merely be confined to studying but should expand to practical usage of the learning process where the child would be able to revel in his achievements.

Difference Between Pragmatism and Progressivism

Charles Sanders Peirce

What is Progressivism?

Progressivism was another philosophical tradition that emerged in the 1890s. This movement highlighted that human development or the improvement of human conditions relied very much on scientific, technological, social and economical development. Along with the Enlightenment era in Europe, progressivism became extremely popular as it highlighted that human society can achieve a state of optimal progress. The key for this was in positivist knowledge.

Positivism lay at the centre of knowledge during this era. All sciences were dominated by positivism. Hence, all other forms of knowledge that went against this were rejected. This scientific basis of positivism and positivist sciences acquired the highest ranks.

In America, the time period from 1890 to 1920 was considered the progressive era. Progressives during this period of time believed that the social vices could be eliminated through the provision of education, facilities, economical opportunities to the people. Although this movement initial began as a social movement, during the later period, this transformed into a political movement.

Key Difference - Pragmatism vs Progressivism

What is the difference between Pragmatism and Progressivism?

Definitions of Pragmatism and Progressivism:

Pragmatism: Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that emerged in the 1870s that highlighted the importance of practicality and experience over principles and doctrine.

Progressivism: Progressivism was a philosophical tradition that highlighted that human development or the improvement of human conditions relied very much on scientific, technological, social and economical development.

Characteristics of Pragmatism and Progressivism:

Emergence:

Pragmatism: This emerged in the 1870s.

Progressivism: This emerged in the 1890s.

Focus:

Pragmatism: The focus was on practicality and human experience.

Progressivism: The focus was on human progress that entailed social, economical, scientific and technological development.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Charles Sanders Peirce theb3558“. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Feminist Suffrage Parade in New York City, 1912” [Public Domain] via Commons