restricted access The Hegelian Legacy in Dewey's Social and Political Philosophy, 1915-1920

This paper considers the criticism and critical appropriation of Hegel in Dewey's social and political philosophy in the years 1915-20, and particularly in Dewey's Lectures in China, 1919-1920. I find two systematically motivated reasons for Dewey's criticism of Hegel in his wartime philosophical works when these are seen as starting points for a social and political philosophy developed over the whole period: first, in his defence of political democracy and his evolving conception of social and political institutions; second, in his epistemic requirement that social philosophy should be based on the methods and findings of the social sciences. Yet his social philosophy makes no clean break with Hegel: it may be seen to develop his former ethical analysis of freedom under modern conditions and to appropriate the Hegelian notions of recognition and Bildung for this purpose. As a practical discipline it proposes criteria for social reform and for criticism of modes of domination embedded in practices and institutions. Finally, Dewey proposes certain idealised norms of political culture to ground politics and legislation in public and rational discussion. While Dewey's proposed norms are to be applied in critical appraisal of the normative authority of any traditional origin, I find his proposal consistent with a Hegelian notion of immanent criticism as articulated in James Good's interpretation.