“It is sometimes complained that pragmatism is a bootstrap theory—that it cannot tell us where we should want to go or how we can get there. The answer to this is that theory can never tell us where to go; only we can tell us where to go. Theories are just one of the ways we make sense of our needs. We wake up one morning and find ourselves in a new place, and then we build a ladder to explain how we got there. The pragmatist is the person who asks whether this is a good place to be. The nonpragmatist is the person who admires the ladder.” -Louis Menand, Pragmatism: A Reader
Readers and Contributors,
We’d like to thank you for another year of meaningful ideas, for all the ways each of you has contributed to our community. Without your considerate engagement and support, we wouldn’t be here.
You inspire our pragmatic mission to break our culture out of a habit or need for certainty, to unstiffen our thinking and foster communities that are more comfortable with the “blooming, buzzing confusion” of human experience, to quote the psychologist William James.
There’s a tendency to reach for certainty, infallible faith, or forceful dogmatisms because, on some level, they can be emotionally and psychologically satisfying companions. Unfortunately, these absolutist habits can trap us in ways of thinking that no longer work, deter us from considering new truths, or lead us toward destructive behaviors that undermine democracy, stifle conversation within our communities, and intensify human suffering.
In the eyes of the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, these rigid forms of thinking, “blocking the path of inquiry,” as he called it, were perhaps the greatest sins one could commit in philosophy. With that in mind, we hope we’ve demonstrated a spirit of open-mindedness, pluralism, and intellectual humility throughout 2021.
Animated by these pragmatic values, the Erraticus Community continues to grow. Here are just a few things we accomplished this year.
We launched another podcast. Hosted by Derek Parsons, Curiosity Manifold tries to notice easily overlooked aspects of human experience. Through brief anecdotes and affable storytelling, Derek delivers some philosophy-infused observations that we hope satisfy both the heart and the mind, something akin to the reflective conversations one has with a dear friend in the half-light.
Additionally, Season Two of Damn the Absolute! is currently in production, likely to be released in early 2022, with guests exploring the tensions in democracy, epistemology, identity, psychoanalysis, localism, religion, and philosophy of science, among topics.
Erraticus also started two new initiatives: Reading Groups and Student Submissions. We facilitated our first Erraticus Reading Group during the summer, built around John Kaag’s Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life (2020). We’re planning future groups.
Our Student Submissions program has produced two cohorts, providing undergraduates the opportunity to receive mentorship from the Editorial Team as they draft class essays with the aim of publishing them in Erraticus. We expect more cohorts throughout 2022.
Look for more announced endeavors as the year goes on. Meanwhile, we want to express our deep appreciation to all the readers, contributors, and listeners who participate in our community and play a vital part in the regenerative task of testing out ideas in daily experience.
Here’s to another year of fruitful ideas.
Consisting of the editors and leadership at Erraticus.