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EDITORIAL FOREWORD


Pragmatism is fundamentally a theory of learning. Anyone investigating the mind's functions and the possibility of knowledge should concede, with pragmatism, that a theory of learning must be constructed first. But what is meant by "learning?" Too many philosophies would keep strictly separate the scientific methods of gaining new knowledge from the pedagogical methods of absorbing established facts. Against this artificial and harmful separation stands pragmatism's hypothesis that there is only one methodology of human learning. This methodology is complex, to be sure, having many skill levels, but there is a continuity between the lowest and highest levels. That continuity is provided by a basic pattern or form of intelligent inquiry.
The classical American pragmatists each explored the nature of intelligent inquiry in light of their own academic interests. William James was a pioneer of experimental psychology who investigated the widest variety of psychological phenomena. John Dewey was also a pioneer, in social psychology, and pursued philosophy's utility for a progressive democratic society. Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) was a pioneer in logic, semiotics, and metaphysics, and formulated a highly original philosophy of natural science. While all three agreed that human intelligence is essentially about learning from experience, a basic tenet of empiricism, such an agreement alone could not have pulled them together into a distinct philosophical movement. However, they were further agreed that (1) while experience grounds knowledge, the mind transforms experience into objects of knowledge, (2) the transformation of experience aims at the relief of doubt and establishment of belief, which is a preparedness to act towards achieving a goal, (3) because the mind aims at practical belief, its transformation of experience is guided by experimental activity, and (4) the experimental process of creating sound beliefs can be logically evaluated according to its ability to guide us towards the reliable prediction and control of our environment.
Peirce's pragmatism developed a sophisticated logic of scientific inquiry. Because of the continuity between all levels of intelligent inquiry, this logic is highly relevant to learning at every level and thus could revolutionize educational philosophy. Peirce himself was interested in pedagogy and composed (but never published) basic logic texts that sketchily illustrate this continuity of learning. Phyllis Chiasson has undertaken the rarely accepted challenge of explaining in detail Peirce's great relevance to pedagogy. She has an exceptional educational background in secondary education. She also has vast practical experience translating her pedagogical expertise into theoretical models, which have been successfully applied in both business and educational settings. Her impressive qualifications and honors are ably enumerated in the "About the Author" page concluding this book. I will only add my opinion that