John Dewey Essay

John Dewey Essay

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John Dewey was a student of the pragmatic philosophers Pierce and
James. He was a mathematician. Pragmatism is based upon the philosophy
of science. It seeks to find undoubtable truths. Like a scientist, the
pragmatists try to disprove a fact or theory until there is no doubt.
The pragmatist, however, believes there are no totally undoubtable
truths, because truth can only be obtained by the future results of
current events. Therefore, we never know if something is true until it
proves to be so. What is accepted as a truth today, may be proven
false in the future. For instance, it was at one time believed the
world was flat, and the planets revolved around the earth. This was
considered fact. However, when it was proven false, new ideas were
accepted as facts, and will be accepted as fact until proven they are
proven false. Pragmatic truths, therefore, are the future results of
current events. There are no pragmatic truths or undoubtable facts,
only probable truths based on empirical experience.

John Dewey reflected upon the traditional philosophic works and saw
that they were out of tune with a world that is constantly changing.
The goal of traditional philosophy was to discover concrete truths
from which to build a philosophical metaphysics. Dewey realized that
truth is dependent upon many different factors (instruments), and
changes according to those factors. Dewey asks is philosophy the
search for truth or the best way to find the truth? He defends the
idea that concrete truth cannot be obtained, therefore; the best thing
to do is find what is the true meaning according to the values we
place upon it our current culture. Therefor...


... middle of paper ...


...m freedom into the atemporal. The conception
of such a world is still built into our education and our common
speech, not to mention the attitudes of philosophers toward their
work. But Dewey did his best to help get rid of it, and he should not
be blamed if he occasionally came down with the diseases he was trying
to cure. (Rorty, Richard, "Dewey's Metaphysics," P. 87-88)

Dewey opened up the door between empirical philosophy and the arts.
The scientific method of discovery combined with the values of the
current culture produce new beliefs or meanings. One is contingent
upon the other. We can not have facts without values anymore than we
can have values without applying them to facts. The only way to
discover what is the meaning in the current society or situation is to
look at facts and experience at the same time.

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