Late this afternoon I heard the word again. It is a word that always throws doubt into my mind. I graduated from a Christian college in 1966. Not by my own desires, but by force of my major, I took four hours of philosophy. A few choice words seem to have stuck in my mind due to those hours in Philosophy 301 and 302. My teacher, a very learned man tried to keep the class practical, but most of the time; I was in deep waters without a life preserver! One of those words that stuck was pragmatic. Put into simple words for me to remember it means, the end justifies the means. I have below, a very lengthy definition, that basically says that same thing in scholastic terms if you care to sort through it.
pragmatism (prăg‘mətĭzəm), method of philosophy in which the truth of a proposition is measured by its correspondence with experimental results and by its practical outcome. Thought is considered as simply an instrument for supporting the life aims of the human organism and has no real metaphysical significance. Pragmatism stands opposed to doctrines that hold that truth can be reached through deductive reasoning from a priori grounds and insists on the need for inductive investigation and constant empirical verification of hypotheses. There is constant protest against speculation concerning questions that have no application and no verifiable answers. Pragmatism holds that truth is modified as discoveries are made and is relative to the time and place and purpose of inquiry. In its ethical aspect pragmatism holds that knowledge that contributes to human values is real and that values play as essential a role in the choice of means employed in order to attain an end as they do in the choice of the end itself.
Fear strikes me when someone is described as pragmatic. Fear strikes because that person is likely to use whatever path he needs to take to get the results he wants to achieve. Whatever path. Morality does not matter? Biblical life principles do not matter? Truth is a mystery to a pragmatic.
This afternoon I heard one of our candidates for President described as being pragmatic. That puts fear in me.
Jesus said of himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)