John Dewey and His Impact on Society


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John Dewey was an American philosopher and teacher who, with Charles Peirce and William James, were the originators of the philosophy known as "pragmatism." Dewey had a long and distinguished career as a teacher, labor activist, and "public intellectual" who was not afraid to deal in his philosophical writings with real social issues. Dewey changed philosophy and its view forever and has made a large impact on the way modern philosophers look at things today.

Dewey started off as a Hegelian idealist, but changed from idealism to experimentalism, which studied the human mind and real life issues, and which emphasized the ways in which human intelligence may be applied to the solution of real problems in real life.

Dewey published over 100 books during his lifetime, dealing with topics such as education, ethics, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, religious experience, war, politics, and economics. He was often scorned by other philosophers who thought his philosophy was too concerned with practice and not concerned enough with theory or with traditional philosophical issues like epistemology (or "how can we know"), ontology ("what is real"), or traditional logic ("what is truth"). Dewey was quite blunt in his claim that "Philosophy recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of men." (The Need for a Recovery in Philosophy, 1917)

This set Dewy apart from the rest, and made his view on philosophy (Pragmatism) very unique and moving. His theories on human intelligence have helped numerous Universities, schools, and doctors help people learn. Dewey was one of the greatest minds to ever walk the face of America.

Timeline and achievements of John Dewey

· Born Burlington, VT October 20, 1859
· 1875, attended University of Vermont major of philosophy
· 1879, taught high school in Oil City PA
· 1882, attended Johns Hopkins University- studied philosophy and psychology
· 1884, first job at University of Michigan
· 1886, married Alice Chipman
· 1888, worked at University of Minnesota as head of philosophy dept.
· 1889, worked back at U. Michigan as head of philosophy dept
· 1894, worked as head of philosophy and psychology departments at University of Chicago (1894 - 1904)
· 1894-6, founded University Elementary School, now the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools
· 1905, worked as professor of philosophy at Columbia University

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· 1915, helps found AAUP
· 1919-23, visits Japan, China, Turkey, USSR
· 1927, wife dies
· 1946, second marriage, to Roberta Grant
· 1952, dies June 1, 1952

Some of his more famous works:

o 1887, Psychology, (textbook)
o 1899, The School and
o 1901, "The Child and the Curriculum"
o 1905, Ethics
o 1910, How We Think
o 1916, Democracy and Education
o 1920, Reconstruction in Philosophy
o 1922, Human Nature and Conduct
o 1925, Experience and Nature
o 1929, The Quest for Certainty
o 1934, Art as Experience
o 1934, A Common Faith
o 1935, Liberalism and Social Action
o 1938, Experience and Education

One of his most famous quotes:

“I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. All reforms, which rest simply upon the law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements, are transitory and futile.... But through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources, and thus shape itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move.... Education thus conceived marks the most perfect and intimate union of science and art conceivable in human experience."


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