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"Be pragmatic! Be practical!" -but what does that mean? The main confusion in U.S. mainstream culture is that it means be skilled, calculative, strategic or effective. It can't mean mainly that, because those adjectives apply to means. The pragmata, the things done, involve ends, too. In fact, without a sense of the purpose of action, all those lovely skills are worthless, even unethical, immoral and imprudent. A discourse claiming pragmatism or practicality without a sense of purpose is a false discourse. The question is, then, what is involved in having a sense of purpose? For this, it would seem several things are needed: self-knowledge in some broad sense, an understanding of social context, and a basic grip on one's own humanity. See how far we are from the discourse of being "pragmatic"?

In this session of the Ethics Table chat-n-chew lunches, we will go over these arguments, applying them especially to two things: (1) political discourse around being pragmatic and (2) educational discourse around being practical. Special attention will be given to the ways in which politicians avoid true pragmatism and to the way in which educational curricula centered on skills end up being --- impractical!

This is a regular meeting of the Ethics Table ( The topic will be announced as it evolves. All from the community are welcome. Please respect CWRU community norms as well.

The meeting takes place in the first floor lounge, to the left of the entrance. Coffee is served. Bring your own lunch if you wish.