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- Topic for #127: John Dewey on Experience and Nature
- Growth, Experience and Nature in Dewey’s Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy
- Experience And Nature
Natural existence is the world of fragility, unpredictability, contingencies, due to the conflict of opposing forces, whose energy sustains the conservation or deterioration of life, reason for the unworthiness of experience. Among the elements that make up nature in the scope of life are humans, who, having the ability to develop investigative and reflective thinking, and favored by their plastic nature, can rise to the level of improvement in social existence, particularly through education. The purpose of this paper suggests the effort to understand the experience of existence in Dewey, since the concept of experience is nuclear in his thinking, it needs to be clarified to distinguish it from that pertaining to other authors who make it unique in the theoretical context adopted.
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Topic for #127: John Dewey on Experience and Nature
In addition, Dewey developed extensive and often systematic views in ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion. Because Dewey typically took a genealogical approach that couched his own view within the larger history of philosophy, one may also find a fully developed metaphilosophy in his work.
Set within the larger picture of Darwinian evolutionary theory, philosophy should be seen as an activity undertaken by interdependent organisms-in-environments. This standpoint, of active adaptation, led Dewey to criticize the tendency of traditional philosophies to abstract and reify concepts derived from living contexts.
As did other classical pragmatists, Dewey focused criticism upon traditional dualisms of metaphysics and epistemology e. Rather, human knowing is among the ways organisms with evolved capacities for thought and language cope with problems. Minds, then, are not passively observing the world; rather, they are actively adapting, experimenting, and innovating; ideas and theories are not rational fulcrums to get us beyond culture, but rather function experimentally within culture and are evaluated on situated, pragmatic bases.
In addition to academic life, Dewey comfortably wore the mantle of public intellectual, infusing public issues with lessons found through philosophy. Typically, discoveries made via public inquiries were integrated back into his academic theories, and aided their revision. John Dewey lead an active and multifarious life. He is the subject of numerous biographies and an enormous literature interpreting and evaluating his extraordinary body of work: forty books and approximately seven hundred articles in over one hundred and forty journals.
He grew up in Burlington, was raised in the Congregationalist Church, and attended public schools. After studying Latin and Greek in high school, Dewey entered the University of Vermont at fifteen and graduated in at nineteen. After college, Dewey taught high school for two years in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Subsequent time spent in Vermont studying philosophy with former professor H.
Torrey, along with the encouragement of the editor of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy , W. Harris, helped Dewey decide to attend graduate school in philosophy at Johns Hopkins University in There, his study included logic with Charles S.
Was the world fundamentally biological, functional, and material or was it, rather, inherently creative and spiritual? Green and G. Hegel afforded Dewey personal and intellectual healing:.
FAE , LW5: In , Dewey married Harriet Alice Chipman; they had six children and adopted one. Two of the boys died tragically young two and eight. Attracted by the prospect of putting these disciplines into active collaboration, Dewey accepted the offer, and began to build the department by hiring G.
Mead from Michigan and J. Angell, a former student at Michigan who also studied with James at Harvard. At Chicago, Dewey founded The Laboratory School, which provided a site to test his psychological and educational theories. Woodbridge, Wendell T. Bush, W. Montague, Charles A. Beard political theory and Franz Boas anthropology.
Dewey remained at Columbia until retirement , going on to produce eleven more books. In addition to a raft of important academic publications, Dewey wrote for many non-academic audiences, notably via the New Republic ; he was active in leading, supporting, or founding a number of important organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, the American Philosophical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the New School for Social Research.
Dewey was spoke out in support of both progressive politics and social change during the first part of the twentieth century. His renown as a philosopher and educator lead to numerous invitations; he inaugurated the Paul Carus Lectures revised and published as Experience and Nature , , gave the Gifford Lectures revised and published as The Quest for Certainty , , and gave the —34 Terry Lectures at Yale published as A Common Faith , a.
He wished to overcome longstanding divisions between subject and object, matter and spirit, etc. Soon, Dewey began developing his own psychological theories; extant accounts of behavior, he argued, were flawed because they were premised upon outdated and false philosophical assumptions.
He eventually judged that larger questions about the meaning of human existence reached deep into cultural practices and exceeded the resources of psychology; such questions required philosophical investigations of experience in the fields of art, politics, ethics, and religion, etc.
They also informed his lifelong contention that mind, contrary to long tradition, is not fundamentally subjective and isolated, but social and interactive, made through natural and cultural environments. Dewey entered the field of psychology while it was dominated by introspectionism arising from associationism, a. These accrue toward intelligence by way of an elaborate process of associative learning. Discovery-by-introspection was indispensable for many empiricists, and for many physiological and experimental psychologists e.
Dewey was deeply influenced by his graduate school study of physiological psychology with G. Stanley Hall; classes included theoretical, physiological, and experimental psychology; he conducted laboratory experiments on attention. From his Hegelian perspective, this psychology could never account for the wider world of lived meanings, the socio-cultural environment. In the reflex arc model, a passive organism encounters an external stimulus causing a sensory and motor response; for example, a child sees a candle stimulus , grasps it response , burns her hand stimulus , and pulls her hand back response.
Dewey criticized the reflex arc framework on several grounds. First, events sensory stimulus, central response, and act are artificially separated for the purpose of analysis. Second, the model falsifies the nature of genuine interaction; organisms do not passively receive stimuli and then actively respond; rather, organisms continuously interact with environments in cumulative and modifying ways. The child who encounters a candle is already actively exploring, anticipating a room, for example; noticing the flame modifies already ongoing actions.
Effectively, Dewey pointed out how the reflex arc model, intending to shed metaphysical assumptions, had inadvertently imported new and different ones. This suggestion is pragmatic; it says, rather than seeking an underlying reality pure stimulus, pure response , look to meanings. The meaning of terms is grasped by recognizing their functions as acts in a wider, dynamic context which includes aims and interests.
His argument that psychology needed to pay greater attention to context and function was applied, in time, to all the sciences, as well as to logic and mathematics. The methodological lesson was, in effect, a warning not to mistake eventual outcomes of analysis for existents already there.
Attempts to explain complex, developed behavior by reference to preexisting impulses and instincts had already been attacked by James e. Across a variety of individuals, instincts considered simple or basic are anything but—they blossom into many different habits and customs.
This lesson also applies to perception and sensation. Dewey attacked the view, common in his day, that a perception 1 was simply and externally caused, 2 completely occupied a mental state, and 3 was passively received into an empty mental space. Consider 1 , external causation. While experience is profoundly qualitative, qualities are never merely received like packages in the mail nor are they simple or context-free.
Dewey wrote,. EN , LW1: — Thus, perceptions and qualities are discriminations made in inquiry and language; they are not reports of ontological entities which are simple, ultimate, or discrete.
Always, pragmatic factors are decisive. Dewey makes the same point about nouns and concepts; cf. How does it mediate thought or action for future experiences? As such, there are always selective adjustments; quick or slow, they always take some time. All seeing is seeing as —adjustments within larger acts. Over time, these habits of adjustment change and, as a result, what is perceived can also shift; subsequent selections and interpretations are modified DE , MW9: Acts are transactional: we act with and on things, in contexts, amidst conditions.
Acts are fundamental to understanding behavior because they are selective. By directing movement and organizing situations, they manifest interest. This combination—of selectivity and interest—make activities meaningful. For example, our ancestors acted selectively regarding how to satisfy instinctive hunger; such selectivity created the conditions for a more elaborate interest in the taste of food, and, much later, in dining customs and cuisine.
Habit helps explain various dimensions of human experience biological, ethical, political, and aesthetic as manifested in complex and social behaviors—walking, talking, cooking, conversing.
Acts unfold in time, beginning with instinct borne of need and muddling toward reintegration and satisfaction. To become a habit, an act-series must possess gradual and cumulative change; such change concresces as one act leads to the next.
While habits may become routines, Dewey argued against the assumption that they were therefore automatic or insulated from conscious intervention. They cannot be automatic, because new situations vary, and the same exact acts never repeat. Thus, unlike machine routines, organic habits remain plastic, changeable. My habitual eating of sweets is subject to contingency a sharp toothache and modification restraint, substitution ; frequently, conscious reflection on an existing habit is the first stage of habit revision.
Habits were also envisioned as dormant powers, waiting to be invoked. Dewey inveighed against the notion that habits are like individual possessions. Habits enter into the constitution of the situation; they are in and of it, not, so far as it is concerned, something outside of it.
Because the situation is cultural as well as bio-physical, habits are ineliminably social. This means that effecting a change of habits does not require a magical act of sheer willpower, but rather intelligent inquiry into relevant conditions psychological, sociological, economic, etc. Darwin argued that internal emotional states cause organic expressions which, depending on their survival value, may be subject to natural selection; for example, my feeling and expression of emotion may earn sympathy that aids survival of like-feeling offspring.
James, in contrast, sought to decrease the distance between emotion and accompanying bodily expression. If I encounter a strange dog and I am perplexed as to how to react, there is an inhibition of habit, and this excites emotion.
As I entertain a range of incompatible responses Run? Call out? Slink away? He decried traditional systems which, in their pursuit of rational access to truth and reality, create an invidious distinction by casting emotion as confused thought, distraction, or bodily interference which needs to be suppressed, controlled, or bracketed.
Emotion is intertwined, psychologically, both in the individual in reasoning and acting , and in the wider culture with social forms of meaning creation. Attempts to balkanize emotion are motivated in part, he argued, by the desire to segregate leisure from labor, men from women; on this reading, the traditional rationalistic bent is, in effect, a power-play that deserves intellectual and moral critique.
As with other psychic phenomena, sentience emerges through the transactions of organisms in natural environments. Methods successful in the past, pre-organized responses, sometimes fail.
Growth, Experience and Nature in Dewey’s Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy
During this development, he had to reconsider some very basic metaphysical commitments found not only in idealism but in many other metaphysical systems. The result was his development of a robust version of nonreductive naturalism that emphasized process and creative emergence. Keywords: Dewey , metaphysics , existence , experience , emergentism , nature , naturalism. Thomas M. His research includes, besides Dewey, Emerson, Santayana, Native American Thought, classical philosophy, aesthetics and metaphysics. He studied under the Dewey scholar James Gouinlock, to whom his essay is dedicated. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase.
It was, however, in the United States, to which he shortly after removed,that his life-work was performed. He became editor of the Open Court in , and later established The Monist,. The primary interests which actuated Dr. Carus's lifework were in the field of philosophy, touching with almost equal weight the two great phases of modern speculative concern represented by the philosophy of science and comparative religion. To each of these he devoted numerous special studies, and to each he gave the influence of the press which he directed.
John Dewey is primarily known for two things: being one of the big names in pragmatism , and for his highly influential claims about education , specifically pointing out the active nature of learning such that simply sitting students down and telling them things is not very effective. Now, Dewey was born in , and wrote about pragmatism and truth near the turn of the century, about the same time as William James, and wrote his important book about education in you might want to listen to some of the Librivox version of that. By , we're dealing with mature Dewey trying to get out his overall worldview, his take on the enterprise of philosophy. His basic critique is the same as what we've seen in Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty , i. No, Dewey counters: what we start with is concrete, gross experience, which is not experience of "sense data" or any other theoretical entity, but which is experience of tables, people, feelings, values, etc. It's an abstraction to say, for instance, that we only perceive colors and then combine them to form objects. That's a fine start at a theory of perhaps how we physiologically put together perceptions, but an abstraction like a physiological theory can't replace the given of gross perception.
Experience and Nature. By JOHN DEWEY. Chicago: London,. Open Court Publishing Co., Pp. xi, THIS is the first series of lectures upon the Paul.
Experience And Nature
In addition, Dewey developed extensive and often systematic views in ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion. Because Dewey typically took a genealogical approach that couched his own view within the larger history of philosophy, one may also find a fully developed metaphilosophy in his work. Set within the larger picture of Darwinian evolutionary theory, philosophy should be seen as an activity undertaken by interdependent organisms-in-environments. This standpoint, of active adaptation, led Dewey to criticize the tendency of traditional philosophies to abstract and reify concepts derived from living contexts.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution. Rent this article via DeepDyve. Brandom R Between saying and doing: toward an analytic pragmatism. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Google Scholar.
Institute of health, physical education and sport science, School of physical education, Kokushikan University. Such experience may arise from the interaction between an organism and its environment, and is linked to past, present and future experience. Through this concept, Dewey explains the process of experience and concludes that education proceeds through a stack of experience.