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John Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism

Larry Hickman

Publication Year: 2009

Many contemporary constructivists are particularly attuned to Dewey's penetrating criticism of traditional epistemology, which offers rich alternatives for understanding processes of learning and education, knowledge and truth, and experience and culture. This book, the result of cooperation between the Center for Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and the Dewey Center at the University of Cologne, provides an excellent example of the international character of pragmatist studies against the backdrop of constructivist concerns. As a part of their exploration of the many points of contact between classical pragmatism and contemporary constructivism, its contributors turn their attention to theories of interaction and transaction, communication and culture, learning and education, community and democracy, theory and practice, and inquiry and methods.Part One is a basic survey of Dewey's pragmatism and its implications for contemporary constructivism. Part Two examines the implications of the connections between Deweyan pragmatism and contemporary constructivism. Part Three presents a lively exchange among the contributors, as they challenge one another and defend their positions and perspectives. As they seek common ground, they articulate concepts such as power, truth, relativism, inquiry, and democracy from pragmatist and interactive constructivist vantage points in ways that are designed to render the preceding essays even more accessible. This concluding discussion demonstrates both the enduring relevance of classical pragmatism and the challenge of its reconstruction from the perspective of the Cologne program of interactive constructivism.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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p. c-c

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

During the past few decades Pragmatist studies, and especially Dewey scholarship, have begun to enjoy broad international impact. Because of its potential for developing socially oriented versions of constructivism, Pragmatism is increasingly accepted as relevant...


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pp. xi-xvi

Part One

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pp. 1-2

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pp. 3-18

In 1929 John Dewey declared in a newsreel clip:

I am not here to knock going to college. If a young person has the opportunity to do so and has the character and intelligence to take advantage of it, it is a good thing. But going to college is not the...

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pp. 19-38

In addition to the information already given by Larry A. Hickman in Chapter 1, I wish to examine some central philosophical topics from the impressive richness of Dewey’s works and the comprehensive body of his writings, which fill thirty-seven volumes in the critical...

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pp. 39-64

In this section I give a survey of basic constructivist assumptions and different constructivist approaches, then briefly elaborate on some connections between social constructivist approaches— especially the Cologne program of interactive constructivism—and John Dewey’s Pragmatism....

Part Two

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pp. 65-66

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pp. 67-83

The history of social constructivist thinking could be written in various ways. One might begin with the suggestions of the ancient Sophists: that knowledge claims are but functions of power. In the modern period constructivism begins with David Hume’s assertion...

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pp. 84-105

Dewey carefully distinguishes metaphysical existence from logical essences. This is an immensely important distinction for understanding Dewey’s constructivism, because, while existence is given, essences are constructed, or, as I prefer to say, created. Dewey is a neo-Darwinian,...

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pp. 106-142

In his provocative afterword to the well-known (neo)Pragmatist volume The Revival of Pragmatism, entitled ‘‘Truth and Toilets: Pragmatism and the Practices of Life’’ (Dickstein 1998, 418ff.), Stanley Fish makes a remarkable comparison. The plumber who tours Europe...

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pp. 143-161

Despite the overall attractiveness and the many benefits of the Cologne program of interactive constructivism, I suggest that its practitioners may have shifted too far in the direction of a neo-Pragmatist postmodernism. I take the Cologne program to advance a...

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pp. 162-184

Pragmatism and constructivism share a common interest in cultural theory. Classical Pragmatists like John Dewey and George Herbert Mead held their philosophies to be contributions to the theory and criticism of culture. In the case of Dewey it is well known...

Part Three

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pp. 185-186

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pp. 187-242

The following is an (edited) e-mail discussion based on the philosophical conversations at a conference held in Cologne, Germany, in December 2001. We will proceed in three steps. First, the contributors will discuss selected questions about their contributions,...


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pp. 243-252


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pp. 253-268


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pp. 269-270


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pp. 271-276

American Philosophy Series

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pp. 277-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246991
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230181
Print-ISBN-10: 082323018X

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2009