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Obama's Pragmatism
I think I’m beginning to understand Barack Obama’s concept of pragmatism better. Pragmatism is the name of a school of philosophy. The major point to understand is that, in the pragmatic view, we have to continue working hard at “business as usual,” regardless of what we believe is ethically right or wrong. As I understand it, Obama’s current philosophically-inspired position is that economic success is the major gauge of his leadership, simply because that is the way everything works in our civilization. Many aspects of our system are repugnant, probably as much to Obama as to some of those reading this, but according to his pragmatism we can’t get away from things as they are.

Obama’s is a deeply thought out attitude and not the same as a policy of continuous expediency. He demands that we throw ourselves into the world as we find it. I think he would say that any other attitude amounts to shirking our (his) responsibility to run the country for the good of everyone, including the good of people we detest.

This attitude can be compared with the one advanced by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived life in Auschwitz while following similar principles. I recommend Frankl’s moving and disturbing book without reservation to anyone who would try to see human beings as we are, inextricably connected to the world around us. In some ways the philosophy of Frankl is the antithesis of the agonized lament, heard in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, that “Hell is other people.”

I’m not sure I can entirely accept either Obama’s pragmatism or Frankl’s grim determination to follow the road on which we find ourselves. Nevertheless I believe these are ideas that we need to take seriously, particularly in light of the current president’s apparently deep commitment to principles such as I am awkwardly trying to characterize here.

If Obama succeeds in getting himself voted in for another term, it will be interesting to find out what he does with his second four years. He may not change his policies, but I’m hoping he will start to explain, in much greater depth, the decisions he is making and the logic he follows in making them.

—Ralph    |   |

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Cached Mar 5, 2015, 6:12 am (all times Eastern US)
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region will only accept Jonathan

Twitter, law enforcement investigate
alleged Islamic State threats

Tunisia tax suspension, teacher
strike test reform agenda

HP to buy Wi-Fi gear maker
Aruba Networks for $2.7 billion

Buffett says 'no jockeying' between
Jain, Abel for top post: CNBC

Georgia's sole female death
row inmate set to be executed

Kerry rebukes U.N. Rights Council
as 'obsessed' with Israel

Fidel Castro finally meets the
Cuban Five, spies turned heroes

Islamic State allegedly threatens
Twitter executive, staff: reports

Ex-Libyan general Haftar
appointed army chief: lawmakers

Iran says nuclear deal hinges
on U.S. will to lift sanctions

Chicago's black voters key as Garcia
battles to defeat Emanuel in mayoral race

Right-to-work legislation
advances in Wisconsin statehouse

Saudi consul released after
three years as hostage in Yemen

China parliament to juggle
reform drive and slower growth

Tajik leader's party ahead in
election, Western monitors cry foul

U.S. approves exports of BAE's
anti-missile system for aircraft

Four Syrian refugees killed
in fire at camp in Jordan

U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran
still withholding key information

Bradley Horowitz to run Google's
Photo and Streams products

Thai junta panel moves to
allay fears over draft charter

Outgoing Namibian president wins
$5 million Africa leadership prize

China says Sri Lanka loans
made 'based on consensus'

China says probing son of
former top military officer

Reality hits North Dakota's pricey
apartment market; rents drop

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