John Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism

John Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism

LARRY A. HICKMAN
STEFAN NEUBERT
KERSTEN REICH
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x04bp
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  • Book Info
    John Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4699-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Part One: Dewey Between Pragmatism and Constructivism

    • ONE JOHN DEWEY: HIS LIFE AND WORK
      (pp. 3-18)
      Larry A. Hickman

      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 same thing as getting an education, although the two are often confused. A boy or a girl can go to college and get a degree and not much more. On the other hand, a boy or a girl in a factory, shop or store can get an education without...

    • TWO PRAGMATISM: DIVERSITY OF SUBJECTS IN DEWEY’S PHILOSOPHY AND THE PRESENT DEWEY SCHOLARSHIP
      (pp. 19-38)
      Stefan Neubert

      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 edition of theCollected Works. I will confine my comments to a brief discussion of each topic, highlighting its importance as an element within Dewey’s overall philosophical approach. It is obvious that any such attempt necessarily involves a simplification of more complex affairs that can be only touched on here. The reader will be provided with references...

    • THREE CONSTRUCTIVISM: DIVERSITY OF APPROACHES AND CONNECTIONS WITH PRAGMATISM
      (pp. 39-64)
      Kersten Reich

      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.

      Present-day approaches in the social sciences and humanities are more and more characterized by specialized discourses operating in particular scientific fields. “Local” networks operate to a surprising degree on their own terms, without even taking notice of similar or related work done in other networks. Contacts are lacking because of the increasing complexity and confusion of information in postmodern societies, which more and more...

  6. Part Two: Pragmatism and Constructivism after Dewey

    • FOUR DIALOGUE BETWEEN PRAGMATISM AND CONSTRUCTIVISM IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 67-83)
      Kenneth W. Stikkers

      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 that the synthesis of “immediate, vivid, forceful, and distinct” sense impressions is accomplished through habit and custom. One might then examine Immanuel Kant’s response to Hume and his attempt to account transcendentally for the lawfulness of the synthesis of perceptions. Next one might consider Hegel’s efforts to historicize the Kantian categories of understanding, and one would likely identify Karl Marx...

    • FIVE DEWEY’S CONSTRUCTIVISM: FROM THE REFLEX ARC CONCEPT TO SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM
      (pp. 84-205)
      Jim Garrison

      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, and in a Darwinian universe every existence evolves; everything is in process; every individual “thing” is really an event. In Dewey’s philosophy, existence or “nature is viewed as consisting of events rather than substances, it is characterized byhistories” (LW 1:5–6). For him, natural events have noantecedentessences; instead, essences emerge as the constructed consequences of the processes of inquiry.

      Logical...

    • SIX OBSERVERS, PARTICIPANTS, AND AGENTS IN DISCOURSES: A CONSIDERATION OF PRAGMATIST AND CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORIES OF THE OBSERVER
      (pp. 106-142)
      Kersten Reich

      In his provocative afterword to the well-known (neo)Pragmatist volumeThe 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 and observes “the primitive state of showers and the absence of copper piping” (427) comes back talking about nothing else to his friends. If there is a philosopher among them, the philosopher will supposedly laugh at his friend the plumber, who takes a highly specialized perspective as exclusive—a perspective, at that, which seems to be irrelevant to the philosopher. Why then should...

    • SEVEN PRAGMATISM, CONSTRUCTIVISM, AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY
      (pp. 143-161)
      Larry A. Hickman

      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 variety of cognitive relativism and argue that Dewey’s classical Pragmatism undercuts the claims of cognitive relativism. In Dewey’s view, certain judgments within the techno-sciences and the social sciences are universalizable: they are globally reliable regardless of individual and cultural variability.

      My general aim is to suggest that there remains a good bit more life left in the program of classical...

    • EIGHT PRAGMATISM, CONSTRUCTIVISM, AND THE THEORY OF CULTURE
      (pp. 162-184)
      Stefan Neubert

      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 that “culture” increasingly became the dominant focus of much of his thinking in his later period, so much, indeed, that by the end of his life he was ready even to exchange his favorite philosophical candidate, “experience,” with the term “culture” as it was then established in its anthropological sense (see LW 1:361–62). Present-day Pragmatists prove their continuing...

  7. Part Three: Discussion by the Contributors

    • NINE AFTER COLOGNE: AN ONLINE EMAIL DISCUSSION ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHY OF JOHN DEWEY
      (pp. 187-242)
      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.

      Chapter 4: “Dialogue between Pragmatism and Constructivism in Historical Perspective,” by Kenneth W. Stikkers

      Kersten Reich: In the history of...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 243-252)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-268)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 269-270)
  11. Index
    (pp. 271-276)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-278)