In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews403 who is neither historicist, objective scientist, nor romantic, can be glimpsed only in the shadows. McMaster UniversityOona Ajzenstat Philosophy and the Reconstruction ofCulture: Pragmatic Essays öfter Dewey, edited byJohn J. Stuhr; 295 pp. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993, $19.95. This book brings together sixteen essays from as many different contemporary philosophers to offer the public a panorama of current work in pragmatism . Among the contributors are many of the best known thinkers presently writing on pragmatism and Dewey. Although Dewey is far from being the only classical American philosopher to find mention among the collected essays, it is his ideas—as the book's title and subtide signal—which give the individual pieces a common backdrop. For all those who have been sufficiently impressed by the tremendous insight and breadth of Dewey's thought to have at one time wondered "What's left for a pragmatist to say?" Philosophy and tL· Reconstruction of Culture offers some examples. Broadly speaking, there are three major ways in which this collection of pragmatic essays attempts to carry on the philosophical project begun by Dewey: through elucidation and criticism of his ideas, by responding to competing philosophical traditions from a Deweyan point ofview, and through extending the pragmatic perspective he developed into new areas of inquiry. All of the essays connect up with Dewey's thought in at least one of these fashions, and most combine more than one. Thelma Z. Lavine's "American Philosophy, Socialism, and the Contradictions of Modernity" provides an historical interpretation of Dewey's social and political thought by situating it at the crossroads of the Enlightenment and Romantic Counter-Enlightenment cultural traditions. Lavine argues that pragmatism , and especially the form it took under Dewey's hands, is today alone among the philosophies prevalent in the Western world in possessing "a sharpened sense both ofthe Enlightenment thought-structures and ofCounterEnlightenment critique" (p. 13). Editor Stuhr's contribution to the volume, "Democracy as a Way of Life," employs an interpretation of Dewey's conception of democracy to show the need for a radical and on-going democratization of American society and culture. Our present economic practices, media, and educational institutions receive special attention from Stuhr, who points out the ways in which these social agencies and arrangements still largely fail to embody democratic principles and values. 404Philosophy and Literature The collection also includes essays which undertake critique ofspecific ideas held by Dewey. In "Aristode and Dewey on the Rat Race"John Lachs takes up Dewey's notion that we ought to aim at reconstructing social practices according to the model of means-end integrated actions. Such actions are those in which not only ends but the means which lead to them are valued on their own account. Although Lachs finds warrant for this social ideal in experience—he cites love and play as actions which meet the said description —he argues that the broad range of application which Dewey claims for it is unfounded. Pragmatic considerations and appraisals of the other main schools of thought populating the contemporary philosophical landscape are scattered throughout the essays. Analytic philosophy, critical theory à la Habermas, neopragmatism, phenomenology and existentialism, as well as deconstruction receive examination in one form or another from pragmatic perspectives. Especially noteworthy in this regard are extended critiques of Richard Rorty (in essays by Thomas M. Alexander and Larry A. Hickman) and Martin Heidegger (in a piece by R. W. Sleeper) . Lastly, several of the essays endeavor to extend the pragmatist project into new fields. Charlene Haddock Seigfried's "Validating Women's Experiences Pragmatically" appraises some of the promises and limitations of Dewey's thought for feminism, and Bruce Wilshire's "Body-Mind and Subconsciousness " develops some of Dewey's psychological theses and points out their implications for theory and practice in education and ecology. A final word is in order about the book's title, Philosophy and the Reconstruction ofCulture. The word "culture" here should not be interpreted too narrowly, as Dewey understood it to cover the vast range of human experience, from the logical and scientific to the moral and artistic. That the book's editor has been true to this Deweyan sense of "culture...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 403-404
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.