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Representationalism and pragmatism

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One of the most striking readings of Berkeley’s philosophy is offered by two founders of the classical American Pragmatism. Both Charles Sanders Peirce and William James regarded Berkeley as a pragmatist. The paper seeks to explain the alleged proto-pragmatist elements in Berkeley’s philosophy in order to trace the historical relation between representationalism (resp. anti-representationalism) and pragmatism. The explanation will be offered in terms of the two famous Sellarsian categories of the ‘manifest’ and ‘scientific’ images of the world and human beings. The ‘manifest’ image is regarded as a refinement of the ordinary way of conceiving things, and the scientific image is seen as a theoretical picture of the world provided by science. The paper argues that the modern pragmatism could be seen as an effect of an attempt to synthesize the ‘manifest’ and ‘scientific’ images by creating one unified synoptic vision of the world after the modern scientific revolution (that caused a conflict between the images) and the failure of the representationalism of Descartes and Locke (as a part of a new conceptual framework within which these two images were supposed to be combined).

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