complexity of global experience. 4
This idea of how improvement happens in the philosophy of history is closely connected to the idea of meliorism. Meliorism is the idea that incremental and local progress can be made but that it is not guaranteed. Meliorism comes from the Latin root melior , which means
canon, which seems to me a secondary question, and will rather focus on the proposition on which it depends. I take Koopman’s main proposition to be the following: the most useful way to understand pragmatism is to read it from the point of view of meliorism. I say “meliorism” rather than
philosophical dogmatism by treating extant instincts as the postulates and materials with which it works. It avoids instinctive fanaticism by allowing a role to reason. By exhibiting fallibilism, revisability, pluralism, and meliorism, this type of reasoning can avoid the dogmatism of the philosophical kind of
natural essence cannot be separated out for examination but is always largely determined by the ways it is socialized or educated. The more useful pragmatist position, I believe, is meliorism – that human nature (including its naturally acquired cultural development) can be significantly improved by
Does New Atheism have anything more to offer than a mere negative criticism of religion? Critics of this movement, such as John F. Haught, often propose legitimate retorts. Atheism seems to offer little or no response to some pivotal questions: What does the absence of God really mean? How to pass through the disorienting wilderness of nihilism? How to avoid life numbing cynicism in a contingent reality? In sum, is all hope lost once we embrace atheism? I will show how William James’s ontological anarchism holds a strong message for atheists who want to surpass the merely negative deconstruction of religion and spread a message of hope. James’s philosophy might contribute to a constructive/positive atheism and offer hope and encouragement for those who try to establish progress in our lives as well as human existence in general. The pragmatic perspective treats progress as possible, thus avoiding utopian or dystopian teleological ends, while at the same time making the possibility of progress and salvation depend on our own efforts, hence rejecting cynicism and nihilism and, in turn, offering hope.
, growth, truth, meliorism, and habits. Pragmatism begins with the real and complicated conditions of our world. It brings together intelligent reflection with inquiry, habits, and action so that we can understand and change our environments to better align with our needs and desires. Hope plays an
Colin Koopman’s Pragmatism as Transition makes the case that pragmatism will continue to have a hard time promoting meliorism as a major thematic so long as it refuses to acknowledge historicism. To avoid the pitfalls commonly associated with the term “historicism,” Koopman uses the term
inspiring the understanding of pragmatism as a progressive philosophy.
For many of these thinkers, pragmatism is tied to a notion of progress through its embrace of meliorism – a forward-looking philosophy motivated by a faith in the future as a site of improvement, possibility, and hope.
and James T. Kloppenberg, by recent pragmatists like Richard Rorty and Philip Kitcher, as well as by contemporary commentators like Richard J. Bernstein and Colin Koopman. 2 These thinkers understand pragmatism as a philosophy of progress through its embrace of meliorism – a forward-looking attitude