01 June 2007

John Dewey (20 October 1859 - 1 June 1952)

John Dewey © David Levine/NYRB

One of my philosophical heroes, John Dewey, died 55 years ago today. I have posted on various topics here from a broadly "Dewey-esque" perspective; see [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] and probably, less directly, others posts as well. Dewey himself is not a terribly good writer, but I recommend The Public and Its Problems (1927) in which he advances a remarkably sensible and smart analysis of American democracy. He specifically accords art a crucial role in democratic politics (even though, oddly, he only rarely and in passing so much as mentions photography). I also would recommend a terrific book by my friend and colleague Robert Westbrook John Dewey & American Democracy (Cornell UP, 1991). Dewey endorsed what in technical philosophical language is called pragmatism.

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