Download John Dewey by Raymond D. Boisvert PDF

By Raymond D. Boisvert

Written in a fashion obtainable to non-specialists, this ebook offers an creation to all parts valuable to John Dewey’s philosophy: aesthetics, social and political philosophy, schooling, the philosophy of faith, and concept of information. Boisvert situates Dewey as a philosopher who may perhaps enjoy the development of technology whereas ultimate an "empirical naturalist" devoted to the revelatory powers of lived event.

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Since ours is an attempt to live as temporal creatures who have some say in determining the conditions which surround us, lived experience is inherently and unavoidably moral. Our constant and unescapable concern is with prosperity and adversity, success and failure, achievement and frustration, good and bad. Since we are all creatures with lives to live, and find ourselves within an uncertain environment, we are constructed to note and judge in terms of bearing upon weal and woe—upon value. (LW 1:33) Philosophy's place is within this matrix of weal and woe.

Viewed from a Deweyan perspective, however, the claim Page 54 can be challenged as misleadingly incomplete. Empirical naturalism, with its emphasis on the concrete, allows the recognition of a more thorough claim: societies are composed of individuals-in-interaction. An eighteenth-century mechanistic understanding of the world could easily lead thinkers to construe of society in "atomic" terms, that is, composed of indivisible, self-contained units. " A society is made up of smaller societies. The ultimate constituents, like cells, are themselves composite and porous to the surrounding environment.

Political discourse then focuses on the question of how the original liberty can be protected in the new social arrangement. The topic of the individual versus the society then comes to be a primary concern. Within such a context, democratic aspirations gravitate toward securing more autonomy for the individual. The individual whose autonomy is maximal, living in a state whose powers are minimal, such are the two foci in the Modern version of democratic ideals. Deweyan democratic theory, not allied to the assumptions of Modern empiricism, resituates political discourse outside of the milieu which occasions this formulation of sociopolitical alternatives.

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