Reconstruction In Philosophy

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Written shortly after the shattering effects of World War I, John Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy offers an insightful introduction to the concept of pragmatic humanism. The eminent philosopher presents persuasive arguments against traditional philosophical constructs, suggesting their basis in self-justification; instead, he proposes an examination of core values in terms of their ultimate effects on the self and others. Dewey's experimental philosophy represented a significant departure from its predecessor, utilitarianism, and it was received with both outrage and acclaim for daring to mingle ethics and science. Delivered in 1919 as a series of lectures at Tokyo's Imperial University of Japan, Dewey's landmark work appears here in an enlarged edition that features an informative introduction by the author, written more than 25 years after the book's initial publication.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It was with this book that Dewey fully launched his campaign for experimental philosophy." - The New Republic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780217450232
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 1/5/2012
  • Pages: 52
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.11 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dewey (FAA October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology. He was a major representative of progressive education and liberalism. Although Dewey is known best for his publications concerning education, he also wrote about many other topics, including experience, nature, art, logic, inquiry, democracy, and ethics. In his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—as being major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality.

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Table of Contents

I Changing Conceptions of Philosophy 1
Origin of philosophy in desire and imagination
Influence of community traditions and authority
Simultaneous development of matter-of-fact knowledge
Incongruity and conflict of the two types
Respective values of each type
Classic philosophies (i) compensatory, (ii) dialectically formal, and (iii) concerned with "superior" Reality
Contemporary thinking accepts primacy of matter-of-fact knowledge and assigns to philosophy a social function rather than that of absolute knowledge
II Some Historical Factors in Philosophical Reconstruction 16
Francis Bacon exemplifies the newer spirit
He conceived knowledge as power
As dependent upon organized cooperative research
As tested by promotion of social progress
The new thought reflected actual social changes, industrial, political, religious
The new idealism
III The Scientific Factor in Reconstruction of Philosophy 31
Science has revolutionized our conception of Nature
Philosophy has to be transformed because it no longer depends upon a science which accepts a closed, finite world
Or, fixed species
Or, superiority or rest to change and motion
Contrast of feudal with democratic conceptions
Elimination of final causes
Mechanical science and the possibility of control of nature
Respect for matter
New temper of imagination
Influence thus far technical rather than human and moral
IV Changed Conceptions of Experience and Reason 44
Traditional conception of nature of experience
Limits of ancient civilization
Effect of classic idea on modern empiricism
Why a different conception is now possible
Psychological change emphasizes vital factor using environment
Effect upon traditional ideas of sensation and knowledge
Factor of organization
Socially, experience is now more inventive and regulative
Corresponding change in idea of Reason
Intelligence is hypothetical and inventive
Weakness of historic Rationalism
Contrast of German and British philosophies
Reconstruction of empirical liberalism
V Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real 59
Idealization rooted in aversion to the disagreeable
This fact has affected philosophy
True reality is ideal, and hence changeless, complete
Hence contemplative knowledge is higher than experimental
Contrast with the modern practise of knowledge
Significance of change
The actual or realistic signifies conditions effecting change
Ideals become methods rather than goals
Illustration from elimination of distance
Change in conception of philosophy
The significant problems for philosophy
Social understanding and conciliation
The practical problem of real and ideal
VI The Significance of Logical Reconstruction 76
Present confusion as to logic
Logic is regulative and normative because empirical
Illustration from mathematics
Origin of thinking in conflicts
Confrontation with fact
Response by anticipation or prediction
Importance of hypotheses
Impartial inquiry
Importance of deductive function
Organization and classification
Nature of truth
Truth is adverbial, not a thing
VII Reconstruction in Moral Conceptions 92
Common factor in traditional theories
Every moral situation unique
Supremacy of the specific or individualized case
Fallacy of general ends
Worth of generalization of ends and rules is intellectual
Harmfulness of division of goods into intrinsic and instrumental
Into natural and moral
Moral worth of natural science
Importance of discovery in morals
Abolishing Phariseeism
Growth as the end
Optimism and pessimism
Conception of happiness
Criticism of utilitarianism
All life moral in so far as educative
VIII Reconstruction as Affecting Social Philosophy 107
Defects of current logic of social thought
Neglect of specific situations
Defects of organic concept of society
Evils of notion of fixed self or individual
Doctrine of interests
Moral and institutional reform
Moral test of social institutions
Social pluralism
Political monism, dogma of National State
Primacy of associations
International humanism
Organization a subordinate conception
Freedom and democracy
Intellectual reconstruction when habitual will affect imagination and hence poetry and religion
Index 124
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