How many of us buy into this idea, or know people who come from the so-called show-me state (Missouri)?
The word "empirical" means that knowledge is a result of experience or experiment. It`s the foundation of science. But the philosophy of empiricism means that all of reality can only be understood as a result of direct experience. Direct often is code for "personal" experience.
Put simply, a person who subscribes to empiricism says, "If I haven`t seen it, then it doesn`t exist. If I haven`t experienced it, it doesn`t exist. I`m willing to listen to others, and if I feel they`re trustworthy, then maybe what they`ve seen might exist. But I`ll want to verify that by seeing it myself before I believe it exists.....for real."
The interesting problem is that out of empiricism comes the philosophy of pragmatism---the pragmatist. There are lots of names for this, but it comes down to how much value does anything hold? If it has no obvious or direct value, then it isn`t "useful."
The logic of the pragmatist goes something like this. "I don`t see how this matters to me, therefore it serves no purpose. Since it serves no purpose, it doesn`t exist."
Pragmatism, sometimes known as "Yankee Know-How" has been spreading throughout society for the past lots of years. What we now see in modern corporations involves "operating profits," where so-called profits derive from saving money on expenses. It`s the pragmatic way to do things, saving money, cutting costs, streamlining, and making things "lean and mean."
"Let`s be realistic" is a code phrase for "let`s be pragmatic." The problem is WHO is making the determination of value? WHAT is the standard of value? And ultimately, how do you or they know?
Let`s say you`re starting a business. Your product is something unusual, new, or a different form of something that already is selling in the open market. You go to your friends and tell them you`re excited with this idea.
"Yeah, right. It`ll never work. What`s the point? There`s already something like that on the market. Why, I just saw something like that last week, really cheap, too!"
Take a moment. Rephrase what you`re hearing. They`re saying, "I haven`t seen it yet, so it doesn`t exist. I might see it later, but I still don`t see the value. Therefore, it serves no purpose [to me] and can`t exist."
One of the most important ways to fight against this pervasive pragmatism is to demonstrate value! That means in your Web site content, you MUST show the value of whatever it is you`re presenting.
You`re facing a cultural mountain cliff of pragmatism. People want the product first, then a refund policy that lasts forever. They want freebies, trial offers, two-fers, and all sorts of other ways to have your product first, THEN decide if its valuable. And then, if it`s only valuable on a personal and subjective basis.
A final and really nasty aspect of pragmatism goes like this: "Since I already know it has no value, then why do YOU believe it`s valuable? What I know is the standard of all things, therefore is Truth. If YOU say it`s valuable, then either you`re mentally unstable or you`re just plain stupid."
Go back in your memory. Recall the conversations you`ve had along these lines. Don`t you come away angry, but also anxious? Doesn`t it cause you to question your own sanity or your unwillingness to compromise?
When you get a burst of fear and anxiety in a conversation, you`re likely being hit with a psychological attack. When you get a burst of anger, you`re likely being hit with a philosophic attack.
Pragmatism offers a diabolical combination of both a philosophic and a psychological attack. Don`t fall for it. :-)