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
He became sceptical of introspection.
He was a “replacement child”: where the first John Dewey died at
He enrolled in University of Vermont at Burlington, where he studied
physiology. He was very much interested in the structure of human
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
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