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BOOK REVIEWS ~47 Mill was insensitive to the Humean problem of induction, and his dubious views about deductive inference probably fostered this. "His abiding confidence in the reliability of induction must seem a species of purblindness to the modern reader," Scarre says, "but once he had decided that there was no such thing as genuine deductive inference, he sought in induction the only sound mode of deriving conclusions from premises; being no Pyrrhonist, he had no doubt that sound patterns of inference existed, and he was bound to conclude that these were inductive once he had established (as he thought) that they could not be deductive." (1oo). WESLEY E. COOPER University of Alberta Raymond D. Boisvert. Dewey'sMetaphysics. New York: Fordham University Press, 1988. Pp. xii + 297. $35.oo. This book provides a scholarly and detailed analysis of the historical development and systematic function of the concept of "form" in Dewey's metaphysics. The material is divided into three general parts, corresponding to the three major periods of Dewey's work. The first and shortest part examines form and being in Dewey's idealist period; the second part examines these issues as they develop in his experimentalism; the third and longest section deals with them in the context of his naturalism. Boisvert gives an initial general meaning of "form" as involving a blend of unity and multiplicity by means of which a structure or determinateness of some sort is achieved, and which, because of the multiplicity or complexity, may be ordered in diverse but limited ways. In the chapter which comprises Part One, the author examines Dewey's idealism in terms of its earlier Kantian phase and later Hegelian phase, showing how this transition involved the transition in Dewey's thinking from epistemology to ontology, from form as inherently mind-dependent to form as a trait of existence. By focusing on Dewey's understanding of intelligence and of the organic unity of knowing mind and known universe, Boisvert shows how an analysis of Dewey's position leads to structure, unity, and, since the unity is a unity in multiplicity, to the importance of relations in understanding form. This is developed in the context of Dewey's dynamic interpretation of existence which brings in the added characteristic of the teleological. Boisvert deals with Dewey's experimentalism in the next two chapters, focusing first on the way key themes in the early Dewey become separated from his idealism, and then on his search for a new logic. Here Boisvert examines the import of continuity and argues that experimental method requires for Dewey that entities be organized yet not absolutely rigid, since experimental method depends on the plasticity in the materials being investigated. He recognizes that Dewey hesitates to describe entities as formed, but views this as a result of the association of the term 'form' with fixity. In the first three of the four chapters concerned with the period of Dewey's naturalism , Boisvert deals thematically with Experience and Nature, Art as Experience, and The Quest for Certainty. He develops various characteristics of form in Dewey's mature position, taking his cue frequently from Dewey's analyses in Art as Experience and then 148 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 29:1 JANUARY 1991 showing that features there developed are generalized in Dewey's philosophy to apply both to techneand physis. The focus is on Dewey's dynamic interpretation of being, on formation as an ongoing process of organism/environment interaction, on the categories of events and relations, and on the way in which forms result whenever relationships lead to an end or fulfillment. Forms are shown to be definable in terms of process and activity, and to be "objectively relative." Because each event offers a diverse range of functional possibilities, an event does not involve a unique form but a multiplicity of them. At the same time, Dewey's forms are held to relate to the Aristotelian tradition in that they can be characterized as atemporal (form, not matter, is grasped by the intellect) and that the ontological status of forms is that of possibilities. The author concludes the naturalistic period with a chapter focusing exclusively on Logic: The Theoryoflnquiry, maintaining...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 147-149
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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