Pragmatism is the pursuit of real world results and knowledge. The pragmatist recognizes the complexity and frequent absurdity of things. They also recognize their limited power in changing any of this such that they view life as a process of compromise. The following are a few basic principles that might make you a pragmatist.
HumilityRecognizing your limited power and how much you depend on circumstances and other people. Overestimating yourself isn't pragmatic.
Context MattersAdapt to every situation -- there is no universal approach that always works.
Nuance MattersBlack and white thinking ignores the reality that is almost always somewhere in between. Explore the true depth of things. For example, phasing your words in a slightly different way may completely change the reaction of your audience.
Intent Matters People are more than what they say or do. Try to read intent. For example, an angry customer who is saying they disagree with your policies who is actually trying to get a little respect.
NonideologicalAvoid universal and inflexible rules that have little application in the real world, that isolate you from others or make you less open.
The Human Experience MattersFor humans, everything is defined in terms of the human experience. From this perspective, elements of this experience such as emotion are just as real as physical reality.
Time is RealTime is very real. Try to respect its harsh realities -- it runs at a constant pace and can never be reversed. For humans, it is very limited. The future is unknown and can't be predicted with any certainty.
There's More Than One Way To Do ItThere is no perfect art, right way or correct decision. Seek perfection if it's useful to do so but know that it probably doesn't exist -- at least for humans.
Essential ComplexityOverthinking and overdoing are common mistakes to avoid. Minimalism sounds like a good idea but is ideological and somewhat irrational. Essential complexity is a more pragmatic approach -- make things complex where they need to be complex, make things simple if they can be simple.
Failure ExistsPragmatists like getting things done in the real world and aggressively seek paths around complex road blocks. In this pursuit it is helpful to remember that failure does exist. Pushing forward with a failing approach is not pragmatic. This being said, it can be hard to tell when something is failing.
Distrust CertaintyPeople crave certainty. This is the root of many failures of pragmatism such as ideological thinking. Certainty may exist but should be distrusted -- everything is open to challenge.
Defer ThingsTry to defer judgement. Seemingly bad things may turn out to be good and vice versa. Defer decisions until they need to be made. Doing nothing is often your best option.
Don't Become a Monster
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. It's good to adapt to situations but avoid mirroring the negativity of others. For example, kindness may defeat injustice better than more injustice.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
NotesThe rules above are disputable and non-authoritative but are based on pragmatist traditions such as legal pragmatism.
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