What is Stoic Pragmatism?
Stoic pragmatism, a term coined and promoted by John Lachs, is a theory and practice of the good life both in social and individual contexts. It uses, as its two main sources for inspiration, American pragmatism (including Santayana, whose links with pragmatism are detectable at some points) and the ethics of Stoicism in conviction that such a combination “provides a better attitude to life than either of the two views alone” (Lachs 2012, 42). Stoic pragmatism abandons “the research/discovery paradigm of philosophy” as “wrongheaded and unproductive” (ibid, 21). Instead, it focuses on the ways in which the individuals will be able to recognize their agency in a more effective way so as to increase their sense of meaningful and happy lives, which is also the best way to ameliorate the social life in general. It assumes pragmatist naturalism (if not Santayana’s materialism) in ontology and epistemology, and the Stoic type of autonomy in ethics and anthropology. The philosophy of stoic pragmatism sees philosophical education as one of the best tools in making people more aware of their potentials, more rational in their choices, and less vulnerable to misfortunes; also, it imposes a special responsibility on philosophers: “Philosophers ought to know better, speak better, and act better” (Lachs 2015, 7). Stoic pragmatism has been outlined by John Lachs in a couple of texts, most fully in Stoic Pragmatism (2012); however, its fully developed version would “resemble Santayana’s ideas in a surprising number of particulars” (Lachs 2012, 143).
Lachs, John (2012). Stoic Pragmatism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Lachs, John (2015). “The Obligations of Philosophers,” in: Krzysztof Piotr Skowroński (ed.) Practicing Philosophy as Experiencing Life: Essays on American Pragmatism, Brill/Rodopi.
Krzysztof (Chris) Piotr Skowroński
To be continued