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The Public and Its Problems

An Essay in Political Inquiry

By John Dewey and Edited and with an introduction by Melvin L. Rogers

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Penn State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

I would like to thank former students at Carleton College (2005–7) for their suggestions on the Introduction. I extend thanks to Kendra Boileau of Penn State University Press, the reviewers of the manuscript, the editorial staff, and Colin Koopman of the University of Oregon, Jack Turner of the University of...


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pp. ix-xii

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Editorial Note

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pp. xiii-xiv

The present edition of The Public and Its Problems: An Essay in Political Inquiry reprints the Southern Illinois University Press edition as found in The Later Works of John Dewey, 1925–1953, volume 2, published in 1984, which also includes the 1946 Introduction and added subtitle published by Gateway...

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Introduction: Revisiting The Public and Its Problems

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pp. 1-29

Dewey came to prominence in the late nineteenth century as a philosopher, but it was his writings on ‘‘progressive education,’’ ethics, democracy, and contemporary issues in the twentieth century that garnered him both national and international fame as a public intellectual of the highest order...

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Foreword (1927)

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pp. 33

This volume is the result of lectures delivered during the month of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, upon the Larwill Foundation of Kenyon College, Ohio. In acknowledging the many courtesies received, I wish to express also my appreciation of the toleration shown by the authorities of the...

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Introduction (1946)

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pp. 35-40

This book was written some twenty years ago. It is my belief that intervening events confirm the position about the public and its connection with the state as the political organization of human relationships that was then presented. The most obvious consideration is the effect of the Second World War in...

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1. Search for the Public

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pp. 41-59

If one wishes to realize the distance which may lie between ‘‘facts’’ and the meaning of facts, let one go to the field of social discussion. Many persons seem to suppose that facts carry their meaning along with themselves on their face. Accumulate enough of them, and their interpretation stares out at you...

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2. Discovery of the State

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pp. 60-80

If we look in the wrong place for the public we shall never locate the state. If we do not ask what are the conditions which promote and obstruct the organization of the public into a social group with definite functions, we shall never grasp the problem involved in the development and transformation of...

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3. The Democratic State

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pp. 81-100

Singular persons are the foci of action, mental and moral, as well as overt. They are subject to all kinds of social influences which determine what they can think of, plan and choose. The conflicting streams of social influence come to a single and conclusive issue only in personal consciousness and...

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4. The Eclipse of the Public

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pp. 101-118

Optimism about democracy is to-day under a cloud. We are familiar with denunciation and criticism which, however, often reveal their emotional source in their peevish and undiscriminating tone. Many of them suffer from the same error into which earlier laudations fell. They assume that democracy...

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5. Search for the Great Community

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pp. 119-141

We have had occasion to refer in passing to the distinction between democracy as a social idea and political democracy as a system of government. The two are, of course, connected. The idea remains barren and empty save as it is incarnated in human relationships. Yet in discussion they must be distinguished...

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6. The Problem of Method

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pp. 142-160

Perhaps to most, probably to many, the conclusions which have been stated as to the conditions upon which depends the emergence of the Public from its eclipse will seem close to denial of the possibility of realizing the idea of a democratic public. One might indeed point for what it is worth to the enormous...


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pp. 161-175

Bibliographical Note

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pp. 177-180


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pp. 181-190

E-ISBN-13: 9780271058320
E-ISBN-10: 0271058323
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271055688
Print-ISBN-10: 0271055685

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012