Pragmatism and Sociology by Emile Durkheim

By Emile Durkheim

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The burden of the pragmatist exposition here must fall, as Durkheim recognizes, upon the concept of 'action'. The crucial test of truth is the action which leads to a state of 'satisfaction', in which the unease of the crossroads situation is dispelled. 5° The pragmatist directs our attention away from 'veracity' to the process of 'verification'- a series of actions in which the trustworthiness of our ideas are tested, or (in the words of Schiller) in which we see how much 'work' they can accomplish.

The essential mark of belief is thus 'the establishment of a habit ... ' 12 In this way, doubt gives rise to the idea; and the idea gives rise to action and, having belief, is expressed by organized movements, by habit. The whole sense of the idea is to be found in the sense of the habit that it determines. Hence this rule: 'Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of those effects is the whole of our conception of the object.

10 The pragmatist movement 1 As a method, pragmatism is simply the attitude or general cast to be adopted by the mind when faced with problems. That attitude consists of directing our attention towards 'results, consequences, facts': 'The pragmatic method ... is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences'. 25 This is still Peirce's pragmatism, which tries above all to get rid of verbal discussions and useless problems, and is marked by a characteristic choice of questions and manner of dealing with them.

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