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John Dewey and the Artful Life

Pragmatism, Aesthetics, and Morality

By Scott Stroud

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: American and European Philosophy

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

Like any complex work of art or argument, this book finds itself placed in a causal web that implicates many people. Whatever value it may possess was surely enabled by the help of many of my colleagues, friends, family members, students, and teachers. I thank my excellent mentors, Richard Shusterman and Paul Guyer, for their inspiration and guidance in pragmatism, ...

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Chapter 1. The Problems of Art and Life

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pp. 1-11

Many people complain about the lack of beauty in everyday life. On a cold winter day in Washington, D.C., the world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell tried to do something about it. In the middle of the morning rush hour, he stood, unannounced, in a corner of a bustling metro station and played some of the greatest compositions the Western world has produced. Not only did ...

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Chapter 2. The Value of Aesthetic Experience

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pp. 12-34

Art may be the object of criminal activity, but one rarely sees art being used to fight crime. Yet this is just what Mexico City did in 2004. After consulting with officials in New York and Tokyo, Mexico City’s administration decided that the way to reduce crime on its crowded subway system was not by hiring more officers, but rather with a program that would distribute seven million ...

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Chapter 3. Dewey on Experience, Value, and Ends

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pp. 35-57

The experience of the aesthetic is taken by most scholars to be a particularly valuable occasion. Yet, the devil is in the details when it comes to describing this value. To build an account of aesthetic experience that does justice to its immediate value and enjoyment by an auditor, one can profitably turn to the work of John Dewey. Dewey sets out to defend the qualitative feel of ordinary ...

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Chapter 4. Aesthetic Experience and the Experience of Moral Cultivation

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pp. 58-92

In the previous chapter, I detailed a theory of value based in the work of John Dewey that attempted to do justice to the immediacy and power of the sort of value that is attributed to the aesthetic. A vital part of that account focused on Dewey’s insistence on the fundamental connection between means and ends in action. This chapter will extend the Deweyan reading of ...

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Chapter 5. Reflection and Moral Value in Aesthetic Experience

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pp. 93-135

If my previous arguments are in any way felicitous, one should see a way that all experience can be experienced as aesthetic. While this includes art objects, it definitely minimized the role that such objects play in aesthetic experience, as many created and natural objects fall outside the conventionally defined realm of art objects. In order to do justice to the power of art objects as ...

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Chapter 6. Orientational Meliorism and the Quest for the Artful Life

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pp. 136-167

Art and morality can and should be connected. Yet not all aesthetic experience should be conceptually tied to fine art as it is traditionally designated. The previous chapters have advanced a sustained argument concerning how experiences can be aesthetic or nonaesthetic depending on a subjective variable. I have alluded to this element as orientation, or a deep-seated way an ...

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Chapter 7. Practicing the Art of Living: The Case of Artful Communication

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pp. 168-192

I have argued that a Deweyan take on aesthetic experience is an expansive, wide-ranging reading of what is connected to the aesthetic and the artful. I have also claimed that aesthetic experience connects to moral value in immediately being an instance of the absorbed, engaged endpoint of moral cultivation. The previous chapter has introduced the more general project of ...

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Chapter 8. Beginning to Live the Artful Life

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pp. 193-206

We have effectively reached the end of this investigation of a Deweyan take on the aesthetic and its connection to life, activity, and moral improvement. Dewey’s reading of aesthetic experience is controversial and fresh, if it is anything. I have attempted to figure out how such a reading could answer the debates concerning art and its connection to moral cultivation, and how ...


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pp. 207-216


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pp. 217-224


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pp. 225-229

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271052366
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271050072

Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: American and European Philosophy
Devoted to the contemporary development of American and European philosophy in the pragmatic and Continental traditions, American and European Philosophy gives expression to uniquely American thought that deepens and advances these traditions and that arises from their mutual encounters. The series will focus on new interpretations of philosophers and philosophical movements within these traditions, original contributions to European or American thought, and issues that arise through the mutual influence of American and European philosophers.