What is pragmatology?

Pragmatology is the study of realistic and achievable solutions to complex problems. The part science, part art of cutting the crap and maybe finding some truths in the challenging world of smoke and mirrors.

The dictionary says ‘pragmatic’ means ‘dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations’. A ‘get the job done’ approach to problems without too much attention to explanation.

So a well-schooled pragmatologist faced with a tricky crossing of the Kalahari Desert would certainly take it on. Only she would do it in a land cruiser carrying gallons of drinking water, a mechanic and plenty of spare parts. There would also be a satellite phone handy with spare batteries, and a phrasebook.

Pragmatology develops three essential capabilities:

  1. awareness,
  2. a keen eye for truth, and
  3. knowing what matters.

Awareness

Seeing and feeling what is going on is very import to pragmatists. It helps with picking the truth and is the essential precursor to empathy because you see a situation both as it appears and the nuances it hides. Being aware does not mean you agree with a stance, condone or even have to take sides. It is the ability to see the sides, even when there are many of them.

Awareness is a bit like common sense, not very common.

The truth persists

This is one of the few themes that run through wisdom teachings from all corners, cultures and ages. If there is truth in something it will survive interpretation, reinvention and time, appearing and reappearing in and out of disguise. Being present is a good example.

All pragmatologists see and latch onto these threads of truth and have a knack for picking them out of all the noise.

Most things don’t matter

Among the many issues that consume us, almost all of them are of no matter. It is nice to match handbag and shoe colour shades but having shoes at all is what actually matters. This is not to say that handbags are meaningless, for a whole sector of commerce and your wife will tell you otherwise, but it points to perspective.

When you know that most things don’t matter it is easier to settle on the things that do.

What is pragmatology?

Pragmatology is the search for truth via evidence and emotional intelligence.

It requires a lot of the nerd in you for there is science, logic and evaluation needed to interpret the facts and sift out the fiction.

It also demands an understanding of people especially what motivates them to do what they do.

The reality is that no amount of science and logic can explain why a handbag can cost $2,000 and not even be the most expensive handbag in the shop or a guy who will never be any good at golf buys the pro version of the latest driver from Titleist.

Or why politics so often overrides policy and policy logic.

People are understandable but they are not logical. However, they do rely on truth a lot. If no evidence existed or was believed then much that determines our technology, systems of governance and lifestyles would not exist.

The ability to establish believable evidence is critical to what we have become — the good, bad and ugly.


Alloporus environmental applies pragmatology to decisions in natural resource management, climate change, and biodiversity.

You are welcome to contact us for more details

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