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166 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 2 7" 1 JANUARY 198 9 James Gouinlock. Excellencein Public Discourse.John Stuart Mill, John Dewey,and Social Intelligence. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 1986. Pp. xiv + 171. $16.95. Professor Gouinlock's succinct and penetrating comparative study of the theories of John Stuart Mill and John Dewey concerning freedom of thought and expression is most welcome. Mill was the most eminent philosopher of liberalism in the Englishspeaking world during the nineteenth century. Although he justified the liberal heritage of individual liberties on modified utilitarian grounds rather than on a natural rights basis, the emphasis of his philosophy, at best in his celebrated On Liberty, rested squarely on individuals. John Dewey, who was born in 1859, the same year On Liberty was published, perpetuated the tradition of liberalism in American civilization. But while Mill and his predecessors had concentrated on individuals and had tended to define freedom in negative terms, such as freedom from state regulation or the tyrannical pressure of opinion, John Dewey focussed on positive conceptions of freedom, such as freedoms to be educated, to think, to speak, to publish. Dewey's conception of liberalism is illustrative of what liberalism means in contemporary American politics, in contradistinction to classical liberalism, still alive in Europe but in America most likely to be called libertarianism at present. Positive freedom, Dewey maintained, was effective only in a properly organized society, one in which, for example, the agencies of government would operate to enable individuals to exercise their freedoms. Consider the topic of Gouinlock's book-excellence in public discourse. Mill's view is that this will be attained if there are no political restraints on free expression, and adequate moral exhortation and persuasion can dissuade or disarm the private oppressors of freedom. Dewey goes a step further. Cherishing some of the same values, freedoms of thought and expression vaunted in classical liberalism, he became aware of agencies and powers in the social situation that obstructed the realization of these freedoms. Consequently, he looked to other means, social intelligence fostered by public education and social action on the part of new or reconstructed political institutions, in order to guarantee the exercise of these freedoms. In chapter 2 Gouinlock probes with scholarly insight Mill's theory of knowledge and moral evaluation. He shows that the notion that truth is a social product, usually attributed first to Charles Peirce, is to be found in On Liberty.Examining Mill's statements on the difference between scientific and evaluative claims in the SystemofLogic, Gouinlock observes that this distinction is not introduced in OnLiberty,where "moral and scientific questions are both said to require free and open criticism as the only means for reliable solution. ''l It may be suggested that Mill's positivism, with its radical distinction between fact and value in his SystemofLogic, had been somewhat mitigated by the awareness of a kind of discourse which is cognitive but non-scientific--namely, criticism. In chapter 3 Gouinlock brilliantly delineates the defects of classical liberalism in regard to the philosophy of experience and of mind and also in regard to philosophical ' James Gouinlock, Excellencein PublicDiscourse,21. BOOK REVIEWS 167 anthropology. In chapter 4 he explores Mill's philosophy of education; he shows how Mill's traditional empiricism, which is based on the conception of experience as a private field of passively received atomic sensations and on the conception of mind governed by the principles of the association of ideas, does not provide an adequate foundation for education. Hence, like Locke, Mill conceived the tasks of education to consist in the development of innate faculties in individuals. By contrast, and more correctly, Dewey held that education involves the development of habits determined by the interaction of organism and environment. Chapter 5 is devoted to an examination of Dewey's conception of social intelligence . It is, I think, the core of Gouinlock's scholarly achievement in this succinct and splendid book. Few, if any, interpreters of Dewey can match Gouinlock's mastery of the subject. Of course, this is not to say that there are no problems with Dewey's theory. Dewey's call for the application of scientific method...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 166-167
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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