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nine after cologne: an online email discussion about the philosophy of john dewey Larry A. Hickman, Stefan Neubert, Kersten Reich, Kenneth W. Stikkers, and Jim Garrison  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, roughly following the sequence of the chapters in Part II of this book. Second, we will ask more general questions about Dewey, Pragmatism , and constructivism. Finally, we will close with brief statements about why Dewey is still an indispensible thinker for us. Discussion of the Contributions in This Volume Chapter 4: ‘‘Dialogue between Pragmatism and Constructivism in Historical Perspective,’’ by Kenneth W. Stikkers Kersten Reich: In the history of German philosophy there is a relatively clear line that goes from Phänomenologie (Husserl, Schütz et al.) to the methodischer Konstruktivismus of the Erlangen School. This PAGE 187 { 187 } ................. 17147$ $CH9 01-07-09 14:26:30 PS 188 an online discussion about dewey’s philosophy school has been very important in launching a cultural constructivist approach. It is presently represented by Peter Janich. From the perspective of interactive constructivism, this tradition is very valuable, especially because phenomenological concepts like ‘‘intentionality,’’ ‘‘life-world,’’ and ‘‘cultural world’’ are highly relevant for a constructivist understanding of the work of cultural reconstructions. What role would you, Ken, assign to implicit (or explicit) phenomenological tendencies in classical Pragmatism? What actual import do these tendencies have for present-day Pragmatism? Ken Stikkers: The extent to which the empirical methodologies of the classical Pragmatists, most notably what William James termed ‘‘radical empiricism’’ and what John Dewey termed ‘‘the postulate of immediate empiricism,’’ can properly be considered ‘‘phenomenologies ,’’ continues to be debated. What is clear, though, is that such methodologies undercut any assumption that some privileged perspective is securable in advance of inquiry, and the abandonment of such an assumption is the most important prerequisite for constructivism . The world is to be taken precisely as it is experienced, in its plurality, and through constructivist inquiry shared meanings emerge. Indeed, James already saw the profound political ramifications of his epistemology, and he connected it to his criticisms of United States imperialism, for which he was best known in his own time: i.e., United States imperialism justified itself, in part, upon the assumption that the form of science cultivated in the modern West enjoyed a privileged, viz., an ‘‘objective,’’ access to the world, and, hence, the United States, as well as other Western powers, felt justified in imposing its Weltanschauung upon peoples it judged to be less enlightened . Clearly such imperialisms, epistemological and political, preclude the possibility of interactive constructivism, and their overcoming is essential for it even to start, and surely James’s insights are chillingly applicable to current United States foreign policy: such policies make impossible any meaningful constructivist dialogue, with disastrous consequences. Present-day Pragmatism to a significant degree fails to understand and appreciate adequately the phenomenological tendencies that one PAGE 188 ................. 17147$ $CH9 01-07-09 14:26:30 PS l. hickman, s. neubert, k. reich, k. stikkers, j. garrison 189 finds in classical Pragmatism, and that, I believe, is a significant loss. A number of present-day Pragmatists—viz., many of those who strive to be ‘‘thoroughgoing naturalists’’—have not adequately understood, in my judgment, the importance of James’s radical empiricism and Dewey’s postulate of immediate experience for their Pragmatisms and thus too often fall, with their ‘‘naturalisms,’’ into the sort of ‘‘naivety ’’ that both James and Husserl believed plagued the sciences of their day; even Dewey is guilty of this in places. That is, they too uncritically accept the categories of natural science, e.g., the categories of evolutionary biology, as universally valid; impose them upon human experiences in realms where they simply do not belong; and thereby participate in the sort of epistemological imperialism that earlier Pragmatists, and classical phenomenologists, criticized. I am thinking especially of current tendencies, among a number of American Pragmatists , to want to disregard, in the name of naturalism, religion, and matters of spirituality generally. Such reductionist trends clearly pose a major barrier to constructivist dialogue between religious and nonreligious people. Thus I believe that contemporary Pragmatism could benefit from a recovery of the phenomenological tendencies of earlier Pragmatism. Stefan Neubert: In the Cologne program of interactive constructivism there is a clear distinction between the concepts ‘‘real’’ and ‘‘reality.’’ Reality...


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