Chapter Two of William James’s Pragmatism called “What Pragmatism Means” begins with the famous metaphysical question: Does the man go round the squirrel or not? What he means by this is if a man walks around a tree in a full circle, and a squirrel is one of the tree branches, how come it never occurs to the man to say that he not only walked around the tree, but the squirrel as well?
William James applies his answer by using what he calls his pragmatic method. By saying that we shouldn’t declare that there is only one answer to a solution, in a similar manner that dogmatic rationalists/theologian types refuse to accept science based reasons for the origin of life. William James seems to be one who likes to here both sides of debate, whether logical or not, he prefers to search for the facts and the validity they hold. It is important to see that there is no right answer to William James on whether or not we actually circle the squirrel as well as the tree; just as much as we shouldn’t be so hasty to rule out scientific or religious held beliefs.
I myself would have said that I did not walk around the squirrel because the squirrel was not on the ground. In my opinion you can walk around something that is situated on the same plain that you are, but not situated on the same plain that you are. If the squirrel is on the branches of a tree it is clearly not on the same plain as you are, and therefor you could not have possibly walked on it. I wonder if this opinion of mine means that I am being a rationalist? And if I am wondering, perhaps then I am being a philosopher?