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Human Nature and Conduct Paperback – October 27, 2011
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From the Author
Perhaps the sub-title requires a word of explanation. The book does not purport to be a treatment of social psychology. But it seriously sets forth a belief that an understanding of habit and of different types of habit is the key to social psychology, while the operation of impulse and intelligence gives the key to individualized mental activity. But they are secondary to habit so that mind can be understood in the concrete only as a system of beliefs, desires and purposes which are formed in the interaction of biological aptitudes with a social environment. -- J.D., February, 1921 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Anyone familiar with Dewey in the least will know that his theory of human action, much like Peirce and James, begins with habit, thought Dewey’s is a much more physiological approach than psychological alone. He begins with the nerve, and develops an understanding of societal behavior from that, moving through the human habit, building a dual bottom-up/top-down view of morality and society as individual (and society as collective). In this book, he discusses his thought on free will, impulse, and intelligence, explaining how these ideas fit into a conduct-focused understanding of morality.
Reading the book through for the first time, I don’t know how convincing it is, but I give it five stars on grounds of its creativity, freshness, and its ability to stimulate.Read more ›
[NOTE: page numbers below refer to a 336-page hardcover edition.]
He wrote in the Introduction to this 1929 book, “Man’s nature has been regarded with suspicion, with fear, with sour looks, sometimes with enthusiasm for its possibilities but only when these were placed in contrast with its actualities… Theologians have doubtless taken a gloomier view of man than have pagans and secularists. But this explanation doesn’t take us far. For after all these theologians are themselves human, and they would have been without influence if the human audience had not somehow responded to them.” (Pg. 1)
He continues, “Morality is largely concerned with controlling human nature… moralists were led, perhaps, to think of human nature as evil because of its reluctance to yield to control… But this explanation raises another question: Why did morality set up rules so foreign to human nature? The ends it insisted upon, the regulations it imposed, were after all outgrowths of human nature. Why then was human nature so averse to them?Read more ›
I will read it again and again.
Dewey (1859 -- 1952) lived a long, active life during which he wrote prolifically. I have thought it difficult to get a clear handle on his work. Dewey has been highly influential, perhaps notoriously (unfairly) so, in educational philosophy. His work has also highly influenced social science and public policy. Dewey's thought has undergone a strong revival in recent years with the growth of interest in American pragmatism and with the so-called "second wave" of pragmatism associated with Richard Rorty. While admiring Dewey greatly, Rorty took Dewey's thought in his own direction.
As with any important philosopher, Dewey needs to be read and struggled with in his own writing rather than through secondary sources or through the views of others. In 1918, Dewey delivered a series of lectures at Stanford which became the basis for his important book, "Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology" (1921) which offers a point of entry into his thinking, particularly his ethics. The book is lengthy, repetitive, and difficult, with pithy, sharp writing and observations punctuating less readable stretches.Read more ›