October 3, 2007

The pragmatists

A group of philosophers who had an influence on the development of the solution-focused approach (or who at least can be seen as antecedents) are the so-called pragmatists. Two prominent examples are William James (1842-1910; see picture) and John Dewey (1859-1952). These pragmatists became popular (again) in the 1950's when some important fundaments of the solution-focused approach were laid (in the work of Milton Erickson for instance who himself was very pragmatic in his conversations with clients). The pragmatists consider practical consequences of behavior to be vital components of meaning and truth (read more about this here). In simpler terms, the pragmatists shifted their attention from trying to understand and predict reality to trying to identify what works. William James stresses (inspired by F.C.S. Schiller) that we are makers of reality. On this page you find a selection of quotes by William James. Here is a particular quote which is directly related to the solution-focused approach:
"Truth is what works."
- William James


  1. Here is the perspective of a Humanist (Pragmatist's complement):

    "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.. think of it, always." - Gandhi


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