With liberty and justice for all

 

I cannot always look to the past
and know why,

But I can always look to the future
and wonder why not.

 

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
... Thomas Jefferson

 

Join us here at American Philosopher as we revisit the dreams and visions of Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, and those who influenced the birth of our nation.

 

 


With liberty and justice for all ...  

John Stuart Mill was the major influence of Thomas Jefferson. Mill believed that no matter the form of government, it is not free unless the liberty of man is respected. It is Mill's philosophy that states that a man must have the freedom to live life as it best suits his interests as long as he does no harm to his fellow man. Jefferson would use this concept as the basis for the Declaration of Independence.

At times the differences between humanism and pragmatism is so insignificant, they are used as interchangeable terms. William James defines the relationship between humanism and pragmatism in his book Pragmatism (1907). James explains that humanism's basic doctrine is that truth is man made. The basic doctrine of pragmatism is centered around what is truth. To the pragmatist reality is still in the making and it will be reached sometime in the future. The universe is still unfinished and growing. The degree of truth depends on a human use of ideas. If an idea works to the satisfaction of man, it is true. Truth grows with man, it is an abstract name for a part of society defined by man.

Besides helping in defining truth, pragmatism has other valid qualities for use in utopian thought. According to James, pragmatism can be the mediator between ideas. It can mediate between any opposing ideas, even optimism and pessimism. James does believe, however, that the universe can lead only to victory for optimists, while the pessimists can relate only to defeat. In essence, pragmatism attempts to organize thoughts in such a way as to achieve the best possible result.

John Stuart Mill stated that a true statement never dies. William James dedicated Pragmatism to the memory of Mill. James claimed that Mill lead him to the pragmatic way of thought.