(This conference has obviously already taken place but I include it as some may find it interesting.)
From the pragmatist point of view, action is central to all philosophical problem-solving: philosophical – also conceptual and theoretical – issues are never unrelated to action. While philosophy of action is also part of other philosophical approaches, the pragmatist stance can only be comprehended as a philosophy of action.
What exactly does this mean? The full implications of pragmatism's emphasis on action still call for discussion and exploration. What is the distinctively pragmatic understanding of action? How does this understanding distinguish pragmatism from other traditions? What are the consequences of the pragmatist view to contemporary philosophical reflection on fields such as science, religion, ethics, education and anthropology?
One implication of the pragmatist view concerns our understanding of our relationship with reality. The classical pragmatists, John Dewey and William James in particular, argued that the connection between human beings and the world they inhabit is centrally a dynamic, two-way relationship: both the acting subject and the world are changed in and by the action process.
A closely related, second implication concerns our conception of the self and subjectivity. According to the pragmatists, the human self not merely engages in action but is a product of action. In this vein, George Herbert Mead showed how human subjectivity is born in interaction and thus rests on intersubjectivity.
A third pragmatist implication is relevant for both moral and political philosophy: pragmatism’s focus on agency makes it eminently suitable for dealing with social and political issues. Existence is action – to exist is to be an acting, responsible being. This understanding of human activity opens up new ways to reflect on moral, social and political responsibility, such as that given rise to by our relationship to the environment or contemporary religious diversity and multicultural society.
Revolutionary as these ideas were a century ago, some of them have recently been rediscovered in other fields of study, such as cognitive science. The basic character of action and interaction has for a long time held the attention of pragmatist philosophers. Now the notion of thought as necessarily embedded has gained ground outside of pragmatism and attracted renewed interest.
The Third Nordic Pragmatism Conference focuses on pragmatism's view of action with the goal of clarifying its meaning and characteristics, its relation to other philosophical approaches as well as its consequences in different fields of philosophical work.
Visit the conference website here: http://www.nordprag.org/npc3.html.