A Pragmatic Approach to Ideas

We encounter numberless institutions throughout our lives—educational, familial, governmental, religious, artistic—many of which fail to sufficiently foster individual character, vital community, or an abounding appreciation for truth. These fixtures of society imprint worldviews upon us, nurture habits of mind, and encourage the development of various existential skills. 

Unfortunately, too often, they espouse ideas which distract from human flourishing. Or, we settle for that which is merely interesting. When an essay strikes us as just a fascinating read or a film is simply entertaining, we have missed an opportunity; concepts stay in an abstract or idealistic realm rather than entering into our lived experiences as embodied truths.  

Of course, value exists in the life of the mind—finding pleasure in cultural or intellectual stimulation—but if an idea can’t be manifest in its most impactful form, instructing the ways in which we live, then we have little interest in it. We sympathize with William James’ orientation that viewpoints should be “judged by their fruits . . . not by their roots,” encouraging individuals to experiment firsthand with theories and concepts—rather than remaining mired in axioms or metaphysics. As John Dewey asserted, truth is the “resolution of a problematic situation.” 

Ideas matter, not in and of themselves, but the degree to which they change how we navigate relationships, overcome challenges, relate to Nature, understand our psychology, contextualize our personal place in society, organize communities, and ultimately, create meaning and purpose. 

At Erraticus, we write to challenge dogma, fundamentalism, and ideological hubris. We are a town square inviting our many communities to practice a philosophy of neighborliness.  

Narratives are in our nature and creativity is central to the human experience.

The accumulated wisdom of traditions deserves respect but shouldn’t hinder us from innovation: cultural, social, or otherwise. Further, we encourage progress, understanding that it must be informed by experiences and not idealisms.

We write in hopes that thriving individuals, in turn, sustain vibrant communities, local and regional. This is what we mean by spontaneous culture—prudent solutions to living well are born within particular places and unique contexts, to then be adopted and adapted as bet fits other communities and cultures.

We view large, top-down social ordering with skepticism. To paraphrase the philosopher David Rondel, bigness, whether in absolutist philosophical systems or in social and political structures, is akin to arrogance and close-mindedness. Organizations, states, and ideologies become more hollow and brutal as they increase in size and scope. We must encourage space for small-scale experimentation.

Minds are more like hands than they are like mirrors.

At Erraticus, we believe that art, culture, technology, and ideas matter as much as they empower individuals and communities to flourish. And that requires taking a pragmatic approach to ideas.

Erraticus Editorial Board

Jeffrey HowardEditor in Chief

Erin MooreContributing Editor | Gender, Politics, Religion, Society

Heather CazadContributing Editor | Arts, Culture, Education

Joshua R. H. ParsonsContributing Editor | Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Technology

Nicole CarloniContributing Editor | Global Health, Politics, Religion, Science

Jenny Lee Hurst — Contributing Editor | Poetry, Short Stories

Submissions

We are always interested in thoughtful submissions. Erraticus accepts well-considered and well-written pieces focused on human flourishing, ranging from arts and entertainment, to tech and science, to religion and culture.

Email them to submissions@erraticus.co.