Volume 6, Issue 1, 2009
Metaphysics, Politics, and Philosophy
George Grant’s Response to Pragmatism
The Canadian thinker George Grant offers a critique of modernity that tries to come to terms with the challenge of Heidegger to Plato. Against philosophical approaches which claim that any kind of metaphyics is obsolete and should be overcome, Grant attempted to think through what the rejection of metaphysics by important modern forms of philosophy means. Grant’s thought looked back to Plato for a conception of justice that he felt was endangered in the modern world. In particular, his philosophical thinking could be said to engage the various forms of pragmatism that he regarded as emblematic of modernity’s emphasis on making and creating in contrast to the older virtue of contemplation. However, the ontological concern about the priority of conetmplation over action was, for
Grant, also connected to problem of justice. Could one defend an understanding of justice that gives to man what is his due while accepting the pragmatism of modern philosophy? And does pragmatism succeed in eliminiating the question conerning God from the concerns of the philosopher?