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I agree with the pragmatists that apparent objective truth is not the whole matter; that there is an authoritative need to believe the things that are necessary to the human mind. But I say that one of those necessities precisely is a belief in objective truth. The pragmatist tells a man to think what he must think and never mind the Absolute. But precisely one of the things that he must think is the Absolute. This philosophy, indeed, is a kind of verbal paradox. Pragmatism is a matter of human needs; and one of the first of human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist.

G. K. Chesterton (from Orthodoxy, 1908)



With respect to the theory that we should substitute for “knowledge” the concept “beliefs that promote success,” it is sufficient to point out that it derives whatever plausibility it may possess from being half-hearted. It assumes that we can know (in the old-fashioned sense) what beliefs promote success, for if we cannot know this the theory is useless in practice, whereas its purpose is to glorify practice at the expense of theory. In practice, obviously, it is often very difficult to know what beliefs promote success, even if we have an adequate definition of “success.”

Bertrand Russell (from Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, 1948)

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