Some quick thoughts on Dewey

Lately, I have been reading John Dewey’s Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. It’s absolutely riveting considering it’s philosophy of education. You’d think something with that title would be dull and dry, abstracted from anything concrete or interesting. But it’s much better phenomenology than anything in the Heideggerian tradition, even more clear than Merleau-Ponty. And it’s actually psychologically astute, to a stunning degree. The more I read the American pragmatists, the more I think they are superior philosophers to the three H’s (Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger). The intellectual weight of Peirce, James, and Dewey is mighty indeed. Dewey is so clear and precise. He uses simple language but talks about big, important and morally pressing ideas. He shows a deep understanding of the need for education, not just training. There is a difference, manifested in the social community and the propagation of socially important norms, ideas, beliefs, and habits of action/thought. Every philosopher should aim to emulate his succinctness and simultaneous depth of thought. And I think his psychological theories are spot on, considering their date. I cannot really fault him on anything other than not being neurologically specific, but since brain scanners weren’t available as a tool I really don’t blame him. But his philosophy of psychology is accurate, as far as I am concerned. While I might talk about things differently, I think the gist of his ideas is very close to the truth. He had such keen insights on the nature of experience, the role of consciousness and nonconsciousness in everyday life, and many other important phenomenological ideas, many of which are articulated more clearly than Heidegger was ever able to do. Dewey is particularly good in respect to the social nature of humanity and what it means to live in a community. Great stuff.


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Filed under Philosophy, Psychology

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