Introduction to John Dewey by MikeJenny


									  Introduction to John
"I believe that education is the fundamental method of
social progress and reform. All reforms which rest
simply upon the law, or the threatening of certain
penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward
arrangements, are transitory and futile.... But through
education society can formulate its own purposes, can
organize its own means and resources, and thus shape
itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in
which it wishes to move.... Education thus conceived
marks the most perfect and intimate union of science
and art conceivable in human experience."
--John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed, 1897
Class April 5, 2010 Agenda
Discuss Dewey p1-58
Watch Pollack interview
Discuss revised assignment
        • Read p. 207-239 Dewey handbook
        • Read Confrey and Maloney on Modeling
 Introduction to John
Page 1-58 The Philosophy of
John Dewey
Born October 1859
 1879: Graduated from University of
Studied Scottish realism and German
1879-81:Taught High School in Pa
1881-- John Hopkins University
1884: U. of Michigan with Mead
1894: U. of Chicago in Philosophy,
Psychology and Education
 Lab School with Alice Chipman
1904--Columbia University
1st President of AAUP
Founded the Teachers Union
1952: Died at 92 years old
Dewey as a Philosopher
Continue asking the
question of what is
higher thought

Continue raising the
issue of how
consciousness is a part
of higher cognitive

But, with Dewey, we
introduce a new theme:
Reason in pursuit of

Piaget and Vygotsky
take academic
knowledge as given and
seek to study genesis
Dewey as a Philosopher
What is the
fundamental purpose of

How does genesis and
the evolution of thought
force one to reconsider
an answer to this

Dewey as a Philosopher
We always live at the
time we live and not at
some other time, and
only by extracting at
each present time the
full meaning of each
present experience are
we prepared for doing
the same thing in the
  Experience and

Philosophy is a
generalized theory of
From Absolutism to
The setting is the interaction of human organisms with
nature or with the environment

Nature has its own relatings– through experience

Transaction is how we experience

Realist, but meaning is our meaning

Experience teems with inference, implication, comparison,
retrospection, direction and meaning

Aesthetics rest in rhythms
Dewey as a Philosopher
Pedagogy becomes the twin effort to integrate the directions
of experience with the total needs of the person and to
cultivate the ability of the individual to generate new
potentialities in his experience and to make new
relationships so as to foster patterns of growth



“I imagine my development has been controlled largely by a
struggle between a native inclination towards the schematic
and formally logical and those incidents of personal
experience that compelled me to take account of actual
material.” (p. 5.)
Dewey in search of
philosophical foundations
Sought to heal separations and divisions

Hence he appealed to Hegel– unification of subject and

Views of religion as secondary: “I have not been able to
attach much importance to religion as a philosophic
problem: for the effect of that attachment seems to be in the
end a subordination of candid philosophic thinking to the
alleged but factitious needs of some special set of
convictions.” p. 7

… in fact they are moved more by partisan interest in a
particular religion than by interest in the religious
Dewey’s identification of 4 influences
on his intellectual development

1. Practice and theory of education are central

“that philosophers in general,.., have not taken
education with sufficient seriousness for it to
occur to them that any rational person could
actually think it possible that philosophizing should
focus on education as the supreme human interest
in which moreover other problems, cosmological,
moral, logical, come to a head.” (p. 10.)
Dewey’s identification of 4 influences
on his intellectual development

2. Rejects dualism between science and morals

“I have long felt that the construction of a logic
that is, a method of effective inquiry, which would
apply without breach of continuity to the fields
designated by both of these words, is at once our
needed theoretical solvent and the supply of our
greatest practical want.”

Basis of instrumentalism
Dewey’s identification of 4 influences
on his intellectual development
3. How to reconcile two strains: subjectivism and
 objectivism from James Psychology.
How to interject psychology and not mathematics
into philosophy? Discrimination, abstraction,
conception and generalization

Consider categories of living vs. mechanical:
resulting in “life in action”

The newer objective psychology supplies the easiest
way, pedagogically if not in the abstract, by which
to reach a fruitful conception of thought and its work
to better our logical theories– provided thought
and logic have anything to do with one another. (p.
Dewey’s identification of 4 influences
on his intellectual development

4. “Importance of distinctive social categories
Especially communication and participation.

 This “will ultimately result in an integrated
synthesis in a philosophy congruous with modern
science and related to actual needs in education,
morals, and religion.”

Link science and social science

Kant and the Philosophic Method
 Kant “perceives what all admit, that an individual
  organized in a certain specific way with certain
  senses, and external things acting upon these
  sense are conditions to our knowledge and then
  proceeds to identify respectively this individual with
  the subject, and these things with the object, in the
  process of knowledge.”
Dewey recognized the problem
 The material which was supposed to
  confront Reason as foreign to it is but the
  manifestation of Reason itself. p.19

 Organic relation: “The relation between
  subject and object is not an external one; it
  is one in a higher unity which is itself
  constituted by this relation. The only
  conception adequate to experience as a
  whole is the idea which we had formerly
  reached of a Reason which is both analytic
  and synthetic. P. 20
Dewey recognized the problem
 A Reason which differentiates itself that it
  may integrate itself into fuller riches, a
  Reason that denies itself that it may
  become itself. Such a Reason which is
  analytic in itself, and synthetic for
  something else, is the ultimate criterion of
  truth, and the theory of this reason is the
  Philosophic Method. P.20
Dewey draws on Hegel
 The categories which for the individual
  determine the nature of the object, and
  those which state how the object is brought
  into the subjective form of cognition, must
  be deduced from reason alone.
 Self consciousness is the super condition of
  all categories
 Dialectic is the construction by reason
  though its successive differentiations and
  resumptions of these differences into higher
  unities of just this system.
Ralph Waldo Emerson as
 Poet is a maker rather than a reflector.
 “We have yet to learn that the thing uttered
  in words is not therefore affirmed. It must
  affirm itself or no forms of grammar and no
  plausibility can give it evidence and no
  array of arguments. (p. 25.)
Ralph Waldo Emerson as
 Perception is more potent than
 Deliverance of intercourse more to be
  desired than the chains of discourse.
 His affair is to uncover rather than to
  analyze; to discern rather than to
 We lie in the lap of immense intelligence
  which makes us organs of its activity
  and receives its truth. P. 29
Ralph Waldo Emerson as
All nature exists for the education
 of the human soul p. 29

If man is sick, is unable, is mean-
 spirited and odious, it is because
 there is so much of his nature
 which is unlawfully hidden from
 him. (p. 29.)
Darwin on Philosophy
 The publication of the Origin of the Species marked an
  epoch in the development of the natural sciences is well
  known to the layman. That the combination of the very
  words origin and species embodied an intellectual revolt
  and introduced a new intellectual temper is easily
  overlooked by the expert. The conceptions that had
  reigned in the philosophy of nature and knowledge for
  two thousand years, the conceptions that had become
  the familiar furniture of the mind, rested on the
  assumption of the superiority of the fixed and final; they
  rested upon treating change and origin as signs of defect
  and unreality. In laying hands upon the sacred ark of
  absolute permanency , in treating the forms that had
  been regarded as types of fixity and perfection as
  originating and passing away, the Origin of the Species
  introduced a mode of thinking that in the end was bound
  to transform the logic of knowledge, and hence the
  treatment of morals, politics, and religion.
Darwin on Philosophy
 Although the ideas that rose up like
  armed men against Darwinism owed
  their intensity to religious associations,
  their origin and meaning are sought in
  science and philosophy not religion. P.

 To understand the intellectual face-
  about expressed in the phrase “Origin of
  the Species”, we must then, understand
  the long dominant idea against which it
  is a protest. (p. 33)
Darwin on Philosophy
 The conception of eidos, species, a fixed
  form and final cause, was the central
  principle of knowledge as well as of
  nature. Upon it rested the logic of
  science. Change as change is mere flux
  and lapse; it insults intelligence.
  Genuinely to know is to grasp a
  permanent end that realizes itself
  through changes, holding them thereby
  within the metes and bounds of fixed
  truth. Completely to know is to relate all
  special forms to their one single end and
  good; pure contemplative intelligence.
Darwin on Philosophy
 Since, however, the scene of nature which
  directly confronts us is in change, nature as
  directly and practically experienced does not
  satisfy the conditions of knowledge. Human
  experience is in flux, and hence the
  instrumentalities of sense-perception and of
  inference based on observation are condemned
  in advance. Science is compelled to aim at
  realities lying behind and beyond the processes
  of nature, and to carry on its search for these
  realities by means of rational forms
  transcending ordinary modes of perception and
  inference. P. 34
Darwin on Philosophy
The human mind, deliberately as it
 were, exhausted the logic of the
 changeless, the final, and the
 transcendent, before it essayed
 adventure on the pathless wastes
 of generation and transformation.
 (p. 34.)
Darwin on Philosophy
 Galileo: “It is my opinion that the earth
  is very noble and admirable by reason of
  so many and so different alternations
  and generations that are incessantly
  made herein.”
 Descartes: “ The nature of physical
  things is much more easily conceived
  when they are beheld coming gradually
  into existence, than when they are only
  considered as produced at once in a
  finished and perfect state.”
Darwin on Philosophy
 “But prior to Darwin, the impact of the new
  scientific method upon life, mind, and politics,
  had been arrested, because between these
  ideal or moral interests and the inorganic world
  intervened the kingdom of plants and animals.
  The gates of the garden of life were barred to
  new ideas; and only through this garden was
  there access to mind and politics… When he
  said of species what Galileo had said of the
  earth, e pur se mauve, he emancipated, once
  and for all, genetic and experimental ideas as
  organon of asking questions and looking for
  explanations. (p.35.)
Darwin on Philosophy
 Once admit that the sole verifiable or fruitful object of
  knowledge is the particular set of changes that generate
  the object together with the consequences that then flow
  form it, and no intelligible question can be asked about
  what, by assumption, lies outside. P. 38
 “Interest shifts from the wholesale essence back of
  special changes to the question of how special changes
  serve and defeat concrete purposes; shifts from an
  intelligence that shaped things once and for all to the
  particular intelligences which things are even now
  shaping; shifts from an ultimate goal of good to the direct
  increments of justice and happiness that intelligent
  adminsitration of existent conditions may beget and that
  present carelessness or stupidity will destroy or forego.
Darwin on Philosophy
 A focus on experience in the present
 The habit of derogating from present
  meanings and uses prevents our looking
  the facts of experience in the face; it
  prevents serious acknowledgement of
  the evils they present and serious
  concern with the goods they promise but
  do not as yet fulfil. It turns thought into
  the business of finding a wholesale
  transcendent remedy for the one and
  guarantee for the other. P. 39
Darwin on Philosophy
 Finally, the new logic introduces responsibility into the
  intellectual life. To idealize and rationalize the universe at
  large is after all a confession of inability to master the
  courses of things that specifically concern us. As long
  as mankind suffered from this impotency, it naturally
  shifted a burden of responsibility that it could not carry
  over to the more competent shoulders of the
  transcendent cause. But if insight into specific
  conditions of value and into specific consequences of
  ideas is possible, philosophy must in time become a
  method of locating and interpreting the more serious of
  the conflicts trhat occur in life, and a method of
  projecting ways for dealing with them: a method of moral
  and political diagnosis and prognosis.
Dewey states pragmatism based in
But a philosophy that humbles its
 pretensions to the work of
 projecting hypotheses for
 education and the conduct of mind,
 individual and social, is thereby
 subjected to test by the way in
 which the ideas it propounds work
 out in practice. In having modesty
 forced upon it, philosophy acquires
 responsibility. (p. 40)
The Development of American
 Charles Pierce and Pragmatism
 Pragmatism
 Rules of art and technique based on
  experience and applicable to experience
 The art of making concepts clear or of
  construing adequate and effective
  definition in accord with the spirit of
  scientific method.
 Relation to definite human purpose
The Development of American
 “the rational purport of a word or other
  expression, lies exclusively in its
  conceivable bearing on the conduct of
  life, so that, since obviously nothing that
  might not result from experiments can
  have any direct bearing upon conduct, if
  one can define accurately all the
  conceivable experimental phenomena
  which the affirmation or denial of a
  concept could imply, one will have
  therein a complete definition of the
  concept.” (p. 42)
The Development of American
 Avoid two errors
 Pragmatism = action as the end
 Pragmatism= subordination of rational
  thought to ends of interest

 Action mediates
 In order to be able to attribute a meaning
  to concepts, one must be able to apply
  them to existences [by means of action]
  (p. 43)
The Development of American
 Beliefs are really rules for action and the
  whole function of thinking is but one
  step in the production of habits of

 1898 James
 “The ultimate test for us of what a truth
  means is indeed the conduct it dictates
  or inspires. But it inspires that conduct
  because it foretells some particular turn
  of experience which shall call for just
  that conduct from us.”(p. 44)
Recognizes importance of motive
or belief
James claimed, “That in order to
 discover the proofs which will
 ultimately be the intellectual
 justification of certain beliefs– it is
 necessary to act in accordance with
 this belief.”(p. 48).

Pragmatism is empiricism pushed
 to its legitimate conclusions
Empiricism linked to Action
 Whereas for empiricism, in a world
  already constructed and determined,
  reason or general thought has no other
  meaning than that of summing up
  individual cases, in a word where the
  future is not mere word, where theories,
  general notions, rational ideas have
  consequences for action, reason
  necessarily has a constructive function.
Reference to James
“A phrase of James very well
 summarizes its import: „the popular
 notion that “Science‟ is forced on
 the mind ab extra and that our
 interests have nothing to do with its
 construction, is utterly absurd‟”(p.
Empiricism linked to Action
“the function of intelligence is
 therefore not that of copying
 objects in the environment but
 rather of taking account of the way
 in which more effective and more
 profitable relations with these
 objects may be established in the
 future.” (p. 54).
  Subject portion
  of environment                    Response , habit or
    to which a      Concrete act         manner
 reaction must be

              Judgment is change in the
              original situation and own
                   mind in concepts
American philosophy has given to
 the subject, to the individual mind,
 a practical rather than
 epistemological function. The
 individual mind is important
 because only the individual mind is
 the organ of modification in
 traditions and in situations, the
 vehicle of experimental creation. (p.

Indispensible guide of intellectual
 and social life (p. 57.)
Dewey reverses
the view of

If knowledge is not an end, and if its meaning comes
from its placement in action, then reasoning is itself
the basis of education---- and what we learn, the
things we come to believe are only knowledge to the
extent to which they facilitate future action and

He turns the problem on its head

Considering this, how does Dewey relate to Piaget
and Vygotsky?

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