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Queen's University
PHIL 115

Week 6 12/02/2013 07:33:00 John Dewey (1859 – 1952)  The most prolific philosopher  The book is from his middle period  It’s supposed to be a general overview of his philosophy.  Born in Burlington, Vermont to a hard-working devout Christian family.  “Are you right with Jesus today?” was a common question of his moral introspection.  He became sceptical of introspection.  He was a “replacement child”: where the first John Dewey died at childbirth.  He enrolled in University of Vermont at Burlington, where he studied physiology. He was very much interested in the structure of human bodies.  Afterwards, he became a high school teacher.  In Oil City, Pennsylvania, John Dewey married Alice Chipman. She was a profound influence on his work.  A common view in philosophy departments during the 1800s-1900s was that philosophy could incorporate scientific methodology.  John Dewey was a holder of pragmatism. He took one course in mathematical logic that was taught by Peirce. He only took interest in it a few years after he was in the class.  Dewey was the most sophisticated philosopher in the progressive education movement.  He wanted to defend James’ pragmatism from critics.  Getting rid of the subject-object dichotomy is not easy.  Dewey will look at the epistemology throughout history.  Dewey also agreed with Darwin’s conception of evolution.  “We have to speak about the human mind, not as a thing that is in the head that stands removed from the external world. Subject-object opposition is false.”  Methodology: Dewey believes that scientific inquiry is the model of knowledge that fits all subjects.  The knowing act is merely grasping an idea clearly and distinctly. When the mind does this, knowledge is partially earned.  Scientific inquiry: experimentation and evidence are done.  All inquiry begins with the experience of a problematic situation.  All intellectual thinking involves searching for a solution to a problematic solution, in any type of subject.  We declare a hypothesis true if the practical consequences of the experiment fit the expectations of the hypothesis.  Most of the problematic experiences that get thinking started amount to incoherence. All ideas must fit into a coherent arrangement.  Knowledge is not something separate and self-sufficing, but is involved with the life of any living organism. February 14, 2013  Truth is always contingent.  If it passes for truth, then it is true.  This is conditional, as truthiness may end if there is a better version of the truth.  We have to say that everything of the human mind is by the nature of a process, not a static thing.  We have to think about knowledge or truth as standing to the world in a naturalistic kind of way, like as in a living organism and its environment.  There is no subject/object dichotomy.  Consciousness has the structure of a stream.  (90): Too often when truth has been thought of as satisfaction or workability it has been thought of as merely emotional.  The merit of the design argument is that it gives us hope, so there must be some sort of merit to it.  A hypothesis has to resolve
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