Our Pragmatic Values

How Do We Approach Ideas?

The editorial team at Erraticus is dedicated to engaging with ideas from a practical perspective, fostering a community committed to fruitful ideas. We are passionate about our approach to ideas but hope to hold these pragmatic values gently and with intellectual humility.

Changing, Open, Contingent Nature of Reality

What we know through human experience is a world devoid of total fixity or permanence. Just as our personal experiences operate within a framework of constant change, so does the external world with its supposed regularities and stabilities. Furthermore, experience is historically constituted, as are our philosophical and moral endeavors.

Primacy of Human Action and Purpose

We primarily seek knowledge not for the rationalist goal of truth for truth’s sake but with regard to more effectively overcoming the many existential challenges we face. We aim for ideas that help us as organisms to thrive within our constantly changing environments.

Non-reductive, Embodied Naturalism

Intelligence and reason are grounded in our natural equipment that enables us to thrive and improve our place in the world. This doesn’t mean reason, consciousness, or mental states can be reduced to merely physical, atomistic, or material properties. Reason is largely a product of evolution, meaning it can continue to evolve and change. Nonetheless, we hold a characteristically embodied view of human nature and cognition.

Empirical, Experience-oriented Stances

We emphasize experience as a source of knowledge. Ideas are judged by their consequences, including how well they connect to empirical science (human or natural). However, we do not view science as a value-neutral pursuit; human values are everywhere.


This is perhaps our most central commitment. Because an open, changing, and contingent world implies diversity, we appreciate plurality, jettisoning the idea of a single, permanent, all-encompassing truth or a single “block universe” devoid of change and diversity. This implies a political pluralism as well as epistemic and metaphysical pluralism.

Future Looking

We judge the quality of views by their continuing consequences in experience rather than their past pedigree. While we deeply appreciate the accumulated wisdom of the past, we do not allow ourselves to be shackled by it. We deploy the idea of experience as experimentation; both old and new ideas can be tested to see what they produce in experience. What worked well in the past will not necessarily work well in the present nor in the future.


We aim to make things better today than they were yesterday. We orient toward reform mindsets and melancholic improvements over revolutionary and utopian ones. We embrace the premise that the world is malleable, that viewing humans as essentially active encourages a more positive, melioristic attitude toward life.


This is an orientation toward seeing things in terms of their continuities rather than suboptimal dualisms. Holism points toward the integrative and relational nature of our beliefs, desires, practices, and purposes. These things do not have their meaning in isolation. This links Erraticus to hermeneutic traditions.


As universalism in epistemological endeavors turns the concrete into sterile or less useful abstractions, scale changes the nature of how human systems function. We believe that social, moral, and political issues should be addressed at the most local or embodied level capable of solving them. We remain open to the reality that what works in one time or place may not succeed in another or at a different scale. We must encourage space for small-scale experimentation. Our commitment to intellectual humility means that we view large, top-down social ordering with skepticism.


Community is a central conduit in our quest for better beliefs, knowledge, and even for the actualization of meaning that comes through language and the arts. We learn through others and have much more enriched views of reality when we include otherwise marginalized voices at the table of discourse. Each person excluded is a detriment to our pursuit of fruitful ideas. This communitarian ethos connects us to thinkers like Charles Sanders Peirce who defined truth in terms of what the community of inquirers will eventually converge upon.

(These value statements are largely adapted from Richard Shusterman’s “What Pragmatism Means to Me: Ten Principles.”)

"There is no certainty in philosophy, but then there is no certainty anywhere else either, and being able to choose what we want to believe should be at least a partial compensation for never being able to let our guard down by feeling sure."

-John Lachs

Subscribe to Erraticus

Get essays, ideas, and podcasts directly in your inbox.


* indicates required
Which would you like to receive from Erraticus?
Pragmatism by William James Pragmatic Values Pragmatist

Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking by William James

First published in 1907, James presents philosophical pragmatism as a way of resolving metaphysical disputes, pushing us to evaluate the fruitfulness of ideas based on their practical consequences in our daily lives.

A History of God by Karen Armstrong Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Weaving together the three major monotheistic faiths—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—Karen Armstrong tells the epic story or intellectual history of how various peoples forged and reforged the idea of God to fit their social and political needs.

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America by Louis Menand

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Menand details the history of several influential Americans around the turn of the twentieth century: William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and John Dewey. Few intellectual figures loom larger in American studies.


A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt

In addition to artistic criticism, Siri Hustvedt obscures the divisions between the humanities and hard sciences, and takes the computational theory of mind head on, inviting us to be more humble about how much we can really claim to know about our inner lives.


Stoic Pragmatism by John Lachs Pragmatic Values Pragmatist

Stoic Pragmatism by John Lachs

Beloved philosopher John Lachs brings together two distinct philosophies, stoicism and pragmatism, into one cohesive perspective using the strengths of each tradition to buttress against the weaknesses of the other.

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretal Ehrlich Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

In the tradition of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau, Ehrlich reflects on the harshness of natural forces in Wyoming, demonstrating the powerful relationship one can develop with nature when one allows themselves to love a place in its entirety.

The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley

Rather than place myth in opposition to scientific inquiry or truth-seeking, she argues for the symbolic force of myth. It's a welcome challenge to scientific reductivism, inviting us to lean into our imaginative abilities.

Sick Souls, Healthy Minds by John Kaag Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life by John Kaag

Part memoir, part biography, the philosopher John Kaag offers an accessible look into the ideas of William James and the potential they have to help us live more flourishing lives.

Negotiating with the Dead A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood

More of an exploration into the spiritual—and even mystical—nature of writing, Atwood gives a moving defense of the arts and the possibilities they open up to us. Writers and readers alike will benefit from her wisdom.

Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty

Perhaps one of the most iconoclastic philosophers of the twentieth century, Richard Rorty provides a history of leftist thought, highlighting the differences between the Reformist Left and the Cultural Left. Many of his insights remain relevant today.

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

A major work in ecology and phenomenology, philosopher and sleight-of-hand magician David Abram proposes a way of being in the world that challenges abstraction. He nudges us toward a more embodied and pre-rational interaction with nature.

Wendell Berry, Essays 1993-2017 Pragmatic Values Pragmatist Pragmatism

Essays, 1993-2017 by Wendell Berry

A collection from the great agrarian essayist, poet, and novelist. This selection offers a glimpse into Berry's defense of localism, community, and environmental conservation.