Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Pluralism , a term first used by Christian Wolff and Immanuel Kant, gained currency as a philosophical view of the universe in the early 20th century. American pragmatism, developed by William James, conceived the world in pluralistic rather than in monistic terms: interconnected but irreducible to unity, its parts self-governed, not a “block universe” but rather a “federal republic.” Philosophical pluralism, as John Dewey had observed earlier, acknowledged the possibilities of variety, of freedom, and of change. The concept's applicability to political and cultural contexts was rapidly noticed by English and American thinkers: James's pluralistic universe could be construed as a polity where groups, possessing inherent rights not conceded by the state, elicited individual loyalties and pursued social ends. The approach came to assume central significance both for Harold Laski's pluralistic theory of the state and for Horace Kallen's vision of a commonwealth of different ethnic groups and their cultures. ...