Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey

Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey

LARRY A. HICKMAN
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13wzvqn
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  • Book Info
    Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4839-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    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 School Critical Theory, Heidegger studies, analytic philosophy, neo-pragmatism, and classical Pragmatism are now happily (and energetically) engaging, challenging, and informing one another. New fields such as the philosophy of technology, environmental philosophy, biomedical ethics, feminist philosophy, and the philosophy of geography—to name but a few—have established themselves as legitimate participants in the...

  5. Part 1. Postmodernism
    • ONE CLASSICAL PRAGMATISM: Waiting at the End of the Road
      (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 toThe Consequences of Pragmatism. It goes like this: “On my view, James and Dewey were not only waiting at the end of the dialectical road which analytic philosophy traveled, but are waiting at the end of the road which, for example, Foucault and Deleuze are currently traveling.”²

      I freely admit that...

    • TWO PRAGMATISM, POSTMODERNISM, AND GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP
      (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 appreciated nor appropriated. One of the more pressing of these areas locates a set of problems of knowledge and valuation related to global citizenship. Classical American Pragmatism, because its methods are modeled on successes in the technosciences, offers a set of tools for fostering global citizenship that are more effective than some of its...

    • THREE CLASSICAL PRAGMATISM, POSTMODERNISM, AND NEOPRAGMATISM
      (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 roles that the arts and the technosciences can play in, for example, social reconstruction, the neopragmatism of Rorty tends to alternate between blurring that distinction, on the one hand, and depicting technoscience as just one more of the literary arts, on the other. Moreover, whereas Dewey’s version of Pragmatism emphasizes the objectivity of results achieved...

  6. Part 2. Technology
    • FOUR CLASSICAL PRAGMATISM AND COMMUNICATIVE ACTION: Jürgen Habermas
      (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 would argue that the United States has lacked a public philosopher of comparable stature since the death of John Dewey in 1952 .

      Even a quick scan of Habermas’s recent work reveals the breadth of his interests. In numerous interviews, essays, and books, he has applied his...

    • FIVE FROM CRITICAL THEORY TO PRAGMATISM: Andrew Feenberg
      (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 that has taken as its point of departure the humanistic Marxism of his mentor, Herbert Marcuse. In his recent bookQuestioning Technology, he presents what is arguably his most successful attempt to construct a major revision of the critique of technology advanced by Marcuse and other first-generation Critical Theorists and the...

    • SIX A NEO-HEIDEGGERIAN CRITIQUE OF TECHNOLOGY: Albert Borgmann
      (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 paradigm” in order to consider “focal things and practices,” about which we are able to communicate by means of what he calls “deictic” discourse.

      As I understand it, his device paradigm is more or less what has come to be known as the program of the domination and...

    • SEVEN DOING AND MAKING IN A DEMOCRACY: John Dewey
      (pp. 112-128)

      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 against the impermanent materials used by artisans and craftspeople, in part to their tendency to deprecate the social classes whose members have traditionally dealt with doing and making in the practical sphere, and in part to their rejection of what he took to be the democratizing...

  7. Part 3. The Environment
    • EIGHT NATURE AS CULTURE: JOHN DEWEY AND ALDO LEOPOLD
      (pp. 131-152)

      It is as unfortunate as it is unfair that John Dewey has been read as an unabashed apologist for industrial expediency and business boosterism.¹ One consequence of this has been the assumption that his work has little relevance to current debates regarding the status of nonhuman nature.²

      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...

    • NINE GREEN PRAGMATISM: Reals without Realism, Ideals without Idealism
      (pp. 153-178)

      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 relevance of Dewey’s ideas to more recent philosophical debates among environmental philosophers such as Bryan Norton, Holmes Rolston III, J. Baird Callicott, and Michael Zimmerman.

      As I have already indicated, Dewey was one of the first philosophers to advance a rigorous and broad philosophical critique...

  8. Part 4. Classical Pragmatism
    • TEN WHAT WAS DEWEY’S MAGIC NUMBER?
      (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 was particularly interested in the number two.¹ In support of his thesis he recalled the titles of Dewey’s books, fromThe School and SocietyandThe Child and the CurriculumtoExperience and Natureand finally toKnowing and the Known(LW 10.xi–xii).

      In making this observation, however, Kaplan hedged a...

    • ELEVEN CULTIVATING A COMMON FAITH: Dewey’s Religion
      (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 titleA 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 up to that point in time. The religious influences on the young Dewey were in fact quite varied. Dewey’s mother was a conservative evangelical; his pastor at the local Congregational church was a liberal evangelical; his grandparents were Universalists; and his teachers were liberal-progressives. During Dewey’s...

    • TWELVE BEYOND THE EPISTEMOLOGY INDUSTRY: Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry
      (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.

      He thought that when epistemologists start out by positing cases of “certain” knowledge, or “justified true belief,” as they sometimes do, and then attempt to find outhowit is justified, they tend to get matters backwards. It is more productive, he suggested, to...

    • THIRTEEN THE HOMO FABER DEBATE IN DEWEY AND MAX SCHELER
      (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 deeply passionate and at times frantic. Apart from reviews and replies, Dewey seldom mentioned his opponents by name, and he usually found something of value even in those views to which he was most opposed. Scheler not only mentioned his adversaries by name but often...

    • FOURTEEN PRODUCTIVE PRAGMATISM: HABITS AS ARTIFACTS IN PEIRCE AND DEWEY
      (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 later joined in this mistake by members of the Frankfurt School, including Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno.³

      This misunderstanding has been more than a simple matter of the cultural differences between philosophers living on different sides of the Atlantic. Lewis Mumford, who should have known better, mocked Dewe’s...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 255-276)
  10. Index
    (pp. 277-284)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)