The Public and Its Problems 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804002547
ISBN-10: 0804002541
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The Public and Its Problems + The Phantom Public (International Organizations Series) + The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Swallow Press; 1 edition (June 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804002541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804002547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 4.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Drew Hunkins on April 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Derived from a series of lectures Dewey gave in 1927, The Public and Its Problems touches on virtually all the major political philosophy questions of our day. One marvels at its continued relevance into the 21st Century. Dewey, arguably America's greatest thinker, does an amazing job in sifting through the problems contemporary society faces when forming a polity.

The point Public and Its Problems brings up on more than one occasion is the need for political and social policy to incorporate the scientific method of testing and retesting to generate better results. Dewey refers to this as an experimental social method and surely felt corporate capitalism had used up its testing time and that a new socio-economic system should be tried. Public and Its Problems talks about how policies and theories need to be constantly in flux and not rigidly adhered. The social sciences would then work to investigate and interpret the results of the testing process.

One portion of the book gives a fascinating look at a puzzling quandary Dewey proffers: that being the contradiction of the French and American revolutions having a philosophy of individualism while being massive collective efforts. This section makes for some complicated reading but it's enthralling nonetheless because it touches on a fundamental political and philosophical question. It's in this chapter of the book where he goes on to pose one of the more audacious and profound points of political thought: the essential fallacy of the democratic creed being that it assumes free human beings can rule themselves. (He obviously does say democracy is a good thing given that it threw off a restrictive cloak.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By rusty on December 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dewey's work here is hard to place: it is certainly not liberal, it is not quite progressive nor is it really socialist, it is something entirely different. This is a book that might take many readings to unearth its meaning, but is entirely worth it for everyone from historians to political scientists to citizens alike. Dewey's argument focuses most closely on where to locate the public, how to create communication, and in turn, community, and how to reinvigorate democracy through true reform. This book is so enjoyable because Dewey is addressing many of the same problems we face today.

His prose is thick, and it might seem slightly ambiguous and vague until the second reading (it surely did for me). Ultimately I thought it was well worth the time I put into it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edgar B. Ramirez on November 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Dewey, in response to Lippmann (phantom public), gives a diagnosis of what is wrong with today's fading public participation and incentive to act in politics. I do not rate this book five stars only because he gives a vague description of exactly how these conditions to upturn public voice can be met. Overall it is an excellent book for those interested in modern public issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edwin B. Spievack on July 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although written in 1927, this is a book that should be required reading for all public office holders and anyone interested in the fate of democracy. Dewey brilliantly explains how the failure of democracy, and of government generally, is not cured by more democracy: that without a community of shared interests apathy quickly overtakes the electorate with the realization that government fails to serve the vast majority of people. The government than falls prey to industrialized interests to preserve the wealth of a few and to assure the vast majority of people are used only as tools to protect those limited interests. What Dewey described in 1927 has become America's reality in 2013.
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Format: Paperback
John Dewey (1859-1952) was an American philosopher (best known as a Pragmatist), psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas of “progressive education” have been very influential (as well as controversial, in some circles). He wrote many books, including Reconstruction in Philosophy, The Quest for Certainty, A Common Faith, etc.

He wrote in the Foreword to this 1927 book, “This volume is the result of lectures delivered during [January 1926 at] Kenyon College.” He says in the first chapter, “social philosophy exhibits an immense gap between facts and doctrines. Compare, for example, the facts of politics with the theories which are extant regarding the nature of the state.” (Pg. 3-4)

He clarifies, “[in] the attack upon theories which would explain the state by means of special causal forces and agencies, there is no denial of causal relations or connections among phenomena themselves… What is denied is an appeal to SPECIAL forces outside the series of observable connected phenomena. Such causal powers are no different in kind to the occult forces from which physical science had to emancipate itself. At best, they are but phases of the related phenomena themselves which are then employed to account for the facts.” (Pg. 36)

He observes, “There has been a steady tendency for the education of children to be regarded as properly a state charge in spite of the fact that children are primarily the care of a family.
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