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EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION Chris Eisele Illinois State University First, vote "Yea" or "Nay" on the following from Wittgenstein: What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life...? If you are protesting that the issues in the quotation are not that easy to vote on, then this Current Issues is p e r f e c t for you. It will provide context and arguments to further your understanding of the complexity of the issues involved—with a special emphasis on Dewey's thinking. On the other hand, if you found voting easy, this Current Issues is even more perfect for you. It will show why it is not always easy to know what your vote is supporting when it is cast on philosophical questions, especially questions in social and moral philosophy. The source of our contributions gives Current Issues a slightly different look this year. The topic is still "current," and, as you can see from the preceding paragraph, much may be at "issue." A series of circumstances has made it possible to reproduce the John Dewey Lecture, with a response, in this format. The lecture, given annually at the John Dewey Society Meeting, was delivered last February in Denver by Richard Bernstein of Haverford College. Michael Simmons, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo and a member of the Dewey Board of Directors, prepared a response for Current Issues Highlights In a wonderful early piece (1893), "Why Study Philosophy," (Early Works, 4:62) Dewey says, "If our wise ancestors, instructed in the lore of Rousseau concerning the uselessness and harmfulness of the philosopher, had isolated him as soon as he showed himself, all might still be well. But the philosopher was allowed to be at large, and succeeded in infecting his time." Professors Bernstein and Simmons are "at large" in ii the pages that follow, infecting their time and investigating how their time has been infected by philosophy and philosophers. To spread the infection, 1 offer these inducing samples: -- Bernstein asserts that Dewey "rejected the very idea of philosophy as some sort of super science with its own distinctive problems and methods...." Bernstein asks and answers the question, "Why did Dewey fade from the American philosophic scene? Why is it that Dewey, who inspired so many during his lifetime, has become such a 'marginal' figure?" — Bernstein explains Rorty's statement that "the best hope for an American philosopher is Andy Warhol's promise that we shall all be superstars, for approximately f i f t e e n minutes apiece." — Bernstein finds it exciting "We can even begin seeing an interweaving and criss-crossing of philosophic movements which until recently have seemed to share little in common." — Simmons feels that "Bernstein in less inspirational tone, in more critical voice, hovers over his John Dewey Lecture. The kind of questions Bernstein has put to others, to obtain c o n c r e t e social and political knowledge, must ultimately be put to Bernstein." — Simmons finds "a problematic that all who pursue philosophy must contend with. The intellectual problem that is philosophy paradoxically emerges most fully formed but also best concealed in well wrought philosophy. It is here that the power of philosophy's content and method, of philosophic argument, conceals from itself and its followers the problematic that is philosophy." — Simmons warns that "final causes have a tendancy to take on the cover of ideology. The well being of phronesis, of our very selves, now requires critical identification of efficient, material, and formal causes that brought us to our present precarious condition and sustain us in it." — Simmons believes that "concealed in the magic of Dewey's dialectic are 1) the undemonstrated assumption that Deweyan phronesis, Theory of Valuation as outline of a program of social theory and action, is adequate to society as it is, and 2) Dewey's a-theoretical dissection of our body politic. We are left with no vocabulary to provide critical entrance and leverage adequate to society today." A...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-1786
Print ISSN
1085-4908
Pages
pp. ii-iv
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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