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Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism

Lessons from John Dewey

Larry Hickman

Publication Year: 2007

Larry A. Hickman presents John Dewey as very much at home in the busy mix of contemporary philosophy-as a thinker whose work now, more than fifty years after his death, still furnishes fresh insights into cutting-edge philosophical debates. Hickman argues that it is precisely the rich, pluralistic mix of contemporary philosophical discourse, with its competing research programs in French-inspired postmodernism, phenomenology, Critical Theory, Heidegger studies, analytic philosophy, and neopragmatism-all busily engaging, challenging, and informing one another-that invites renewed examination of Dewey's central ideas.Hickman offers a Dewey who both anticipated some of the central insights of French-inspired postmodernism and, if he were alive today, would certainly be one of its most committed critics, a Dewey who foresaw some of the most trenchant problems associated with fostering global citizenship, and a Dewey whose core ideas are often at odds with those of some of his most ardent neopragmatist interpreters.In the trio of essays that launch this book, Dewey is an observer and critic of some of the central features of French-inspired postmodernism and its American cousin, neopragmatism. In the next four, Dewey enters into dialogue with contemporary critics of technology, including Jrgen Habermas, Andrew Feenberg, and Albert Borgmann. The next two essays establish Dewey as an environmental philosopher of the first rank-a worthy conversation partner for Holmes Ralston, III, Baird Callicott, Bryan G. Norton, and Aldo Leopold. The concluding essays provide novel interpretations of Dewey's views of religious belief, the psychology of habit, philosophical anthropology, and what he termed the epistemology industry.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

For the most part, the essays in this volume were written with the aim of extending the reach of John Dewey’s insights into areas where they have so far had little or no recognition. The underlying claim is that his work still offers much that is fresh, and that when properly understood, it is capable of making important contributions...

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pp. 1-9

Philosophy in America is enjoying a period of unprecedented pluralism. The gradual erosion of the hegemony of Anglo-American analytic philosophy that began in the late 1970s has created enlarged spaces for new interests, new ideas, and new debates. New research programs in French postmodernism, phenomenology, Frankfurt...

Part 1: Postmodernism

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pp. 11

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1. Classical Pragmatism: Waiting at the End of the Road

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pp. 13-29

I take as my point of departure the now famous remark by Richard Rorty, that when certain of the postmodernists reach the end of the road they are traveling they will find Dewey there waiting for them.1 The precise text I have in mind is from the introduction to The Consequences of Pragmatism. It goes like this: ‘‘On my view...

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2. Pragmatism, Postmodernism, and Global Citizenship

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pp. 30-47

The founders of American Pragmatism proposed what they regarded as a radical alternative to the philosophical methods and doctrines of their predecessors and contemporaries.1 Although their central ideas have been understood and applied in some quarters, there remain other areas within which they have been neither...

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3. Classical Pragmatism, Postmodernism, and Neopragmatism

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pp. 48-62

For those who are interested in coming to grips with the problems and prospects of our increasingly technological culture, classical Pragmatism appears to offer significant advantages over some currently popular versions of neopragmatism.1 Whereas the experimentalist version of Pragmatism advanced by Dewey honored the distinct...

Part 2: Technology

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pp. 63

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4. Classical Pragmatism and Communicative Action: Jürgen Habermas

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pp. 65-78

The Federal Republic of Germany is fortunate to have in Jürgen Habermas a deeply engaged public philosopher.1 Since the 1960s he has been a social critic of undisputed stature who has brought to numerous public debates a profound understanding of philosophy, its past and prospects, and of the human sciences in general. Some...

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5. From Critical Theory to Pragmatism: Andrew Feenberg

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pp. 79-91

Over the course of more than two decades, during which he has published an impressive number of books and essays, Andrew Feenberg has established himself as an important representative of a new generation of Critical Theorists.1 Consistently insightful and articulate, he has developed a trenchant critique of technological culture...

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6. A Neo-Heideggerian Critique of Technology: Albert Borgmann

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pp. 92-111

There is a great deal to admire in Albert Borgmann’s neo-Heideggerian critique of the ways in which contemporary men and women interact with technology.1 His suggestions about how such interactions can be improved are both serious in tone and richly suggestive. He encourages us to go beyond what he calls ‘‘the device...

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7. Doing and Making in a Democracy: John Dewey

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pp. 112-127

Advancing a claim once regarded as radical and still widely misunderstood, John Dewey argued that most of his philosophical predecessors, even those who had claimed the methods of science as their own, had been guilty of a failure to recognize the importance of technology.1 He suggested this was due in part to their prejudice...

Part 3: The Environment

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pp. 129

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8. Nature as Culture: John Dewey and Aldo Leopold

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pp. 131-152

It is true that Dewey was at one time the leader of a school of Pragmatism known as ‘‘Instrumentalism,’’ but his Pragmatism was never the vulgar sort that valorizes bald expediency. Nor was his Instrumentalism the ‘‘straight-line’’ variety that works toward fixed goals, heedless of the collateral problems and opportunities that arise during...

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9. Green Pragmatism: Reals without Realism, Ideals without Idealism

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pp. 153-177

This essay builds on the material presented in the preceding chapter, in which I argued that the field naturalism of Aldo Leopold and the environmental naturalism of John Dewey have a great deal in common and that Dewey’s Pragmatism can broaden our understanding of Leopold’s life and legacy.1 In this chapter I shall discuss the...

Part 4: Classical Pragmatism

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pp. 179

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10. What Was Dewey’s Magic Number?

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pp. 181-190

Abraham Kaplan once suggested that Dewey’s ‘‘magic number’’ was two. Unlike nihilists, whose magic number is zero, and also unlike monists, trinitarians, squares (whose magic number is four), pluralists (whose magic number is more than four), and radical pluralists (whose magic number is infinity), Kaplan thought that Dewey...

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11. Cultivating a Common Faith: Dewey’s Religion

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pp. 191-205

Born in 1859 in Burlington, Vermont, John Dewey was already seventy-five years old in 1934 when he published his lectures on religious experience under the title A Common Faith.1 Although this is Dewey’s only book-length treatment of the subject, it would be a mistake to conclude that he had demonstrated little interest in religion...

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12. Beyond the Epistemology Industry: Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry

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pp. 206-230

John Dewey did not develop a theory of knowledge in the usual sense of ‘‘epistemology,’’ but he did have a well-developed theory of inquiry.1 He was in fact highly critical of what he called ‘‘the epistemology industry’’ because of its tendency to treat knowledge as something separated from the contexts in which actual inquiry takes place...

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13. The Homo Faber Debate in Dewey and Max Scheler

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pp. 231-240

It would be difficult to find two contemporaneous philosophers whose style and temper appear less similar to one another than do those of John Dewey and Max Scheler.1 Dewey was a Protestant Yankee, Scheler was a German whose mother was a Jew and whose father was Catholic. Dewey’s style was calm and measured, Scheler’s was...

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14. Productive Pragmatism: Habits as Artifacts in Peirce and Dewey

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pp. 241-254

Critics of the classical Pragmatists seem never to have tired of accusing them of making action an end in itself.1 Bertrand Russell misread them in this way, accusing Dewey of subordinating knowledge to action. Russell charged Pragmatism with saying that ‘‘the only essential result of successful inquiry is successful action.’’2 He was...


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pp. 255-275


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pp. 277-284

E-ISBN-13: 9780823248391
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823228416
Print-ISBN-10: 082322841X

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2007