My last post recommended three books on action under uncertainty, including The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand. This book traces the origins of pragmatism, a philosophy that believes “ideas are not ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered, but are tools–like forks and knives and microchips–that people devise to cope with the world in which they find themselves” (xi). By interweaving the stories of four leading pragmatists along with their influences, opponents, and related ideas, Menand creates a rich tapestry to illuminate the rise of pragmatism.
Pragmatism aspires to link ideas and action. “We don’t act because we have ideas;” Menand summarizes, “we have ideas because we must act” (364). But pragmatism contains a fatal flaw as a guide action in the real