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Experience and Nature Perfect Paperback – June 1, 1958
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Dewey uses this concept of experience to provide a theory he calls "naturalistic empiricism"; a pragmatic theory of knowledge that provides a basis for his later inquiries into knowledge and human experience. His treatment of the ontogeny of knowledge provides a compelling, thoroughly materialistic, and Darwinian account of the development of thinking in the human animal without lapsing into an isolating solipsism or into a fanciful dualism. The prevalence of Hegelian philosophy in Dewey's earlier philosophic work and his training as a psychologist provide him with an eye for solid methodology, a powerful sense of the role of social structure in human thinking, and a talent for synthesis.Read more ›
This book is, minimally, essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the epistemology underlying Dewey's educational theory. Or, in fact, any of his other theories.
More than that, it is possibly the best single articulation of pragmatic philosophy; where William James applied pragmatic method to specific issues of morals and metaphysics, Dewey has here expounded on many of the broad implications of that method. The central ideas of this book are the inclusion of quality and ends in natural existence, which are shown to have broad implications for topics such as scientific inquiry, theories of value, and aesthetics. This is one of the best works of epistemology I have ever read. Best of all, it is rigorous and wide-ranging without becoming a System.
At most, it may be the most important work of philosophy ever written in the history of the universe. I'm not going to go that far, though.
This book challenges the reader, and demands considerable thought and attention. Even if one ultimately concludes that Dewey's argument is flawed, the attempt at that argument is already a major step beyond the primary assumptions of Cartesian dualism, Kantian facultative psychology, and the mangled attempts to make sense of the world by so many thinkers today who variously accept those assumptions (even if that acceptance is only in the form of the naïve rejection thereof.)
This Kindle edition is a true eBook, with an active ToC, and hypertexted footnotes. This is an important contribution to digital scholarship.
He wrote in the Preface to the revised 1929 edition of this book, “I believe that the method of empirical naturalism presented in this volume provides the way, and the only way---although of course no two thinkers will travel it in just the same fashion---by which one can freely accept the standpoint and conclusions of modern science: the way by which we can be genuinely naturalistic and yet maintain cherished values, provided they are critically clarified and reinforced. The naturalistic method… destroys many things much cherished; but it destroys them by revealing their inconsistency with the nature of things… But its main purpose is not destructive… it inspires the mind with courage and vitality to create new ideals and values in the face of the perplexities of a new world.” (Pg. ii-iii) Similarly, he began the first chapter with the statement, “The title of this volume… is intended to signify that the philosophy here presented may be termed either empirical naturalism or naturalistic empiricism, or, taking ‘experience’ in its usual signification, naturalistic humanism.” (Pg.Read more ›