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Ole Ben Franklin, the Pragmatist?: On the Philosophical Credentials of an American Founder

Ole Ben Franklin, the Pragmatist?: On the Philosophical Credentials of an American Founder Ole Ben Franklin, the Pragmatist? On the Philosophical Credentials of an American Founder sh ane j. r alston Pennsylvania State University, Hazleton wa s be n ja m i n fr a n k l i n t h e ol d John Dewey or the new Socrates? While this might strike the reader as an absurd question, scholars have sup- plied plausible answers. James Campbell takes the position that he was the old Dewey—or, at least, a nascent Deweyan pragmatist. Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson agrees, claiming that Franklin “laid the foundation for the most influential of America’s homegrown philosophies, pragmatism” (491). Lorraine Pangle, on the other hand, defends the view that Franklin’s thought and writings were distinctly Socratic. I would like to accomplish two objec- tives in this article that might initially appear incompatible: one, to doubt whether the question is a good one and, two, to assume the question’s accept- ability for the sake of exploring the claim that pragmatism is quintessentially American—or, in Colin Koopman’s words, “a corollary to the experiment of American democracy” (113). If indeed philosophical pragmatism has its roots in the American experience, then we would expect to find a heavy de- posit http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

Ole Ben Franklin, the Pragmatist?: On the Philosophical Credentials of an American Founder

The Pluralist , Volume 7 – Mar 2, 2012

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1944-6489

Abstract

Ole Ben Franklin, the Pragmatist? On the Philosophical Credentials of an American Founder sh ane j. r alston Pennsylvania State University, Hazleton wa s be n ja m i n fr a n k l i n t h e ol d John Dewey or the new Socrates? While this might strike the reader as an absurd question, scholars have sup- plied plausible answers. James Campbell takes the position that he was the old Dewey—or, at least, a nascent Deweyan pragmatist. Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson agrees, claiming that Franklin “laid the foundation for the most influential of America’s homegrown philosophies, pragmatism” (491). Lorraine Pangle, on the other hand, defends the view that Franklin’s thought and writings were distinctly Socratic. I would like to accomplish two objec- tives in this article that might initially appear incompatible: one, to doubt whether the question is a good one and, two, to assume the question’s accept- ability for the sake of exploring the claim that pragmatism is quintessentially American—or, in Colin Koopman’s words, “a corollary to the experiment of American democracy” (113). If indeed philosophical pragmatism has its roots in the American experience, then we would expect to find a heavy de- posit

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 2, 2012

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