By David Hildebrand
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Extra info for Dewey : a beginner's guide
This chapter’s focus on psychology has necessarily related experience to the creature’s side of things. Nature (or environment) has been mentioned largely as the complement to organisms. It is important to realize, however, that experience and nature do not merely exist, side by side, however compatibly. Rather, experience and physical events exist on a continuum, and it is our own categorizing activity that sets some events apart as ‘nature’. qxp 4/21/2008 2:45 PM Page 38 38 Dewey: A Beginner’s Guide Experience emerges from interaction .
To promote this dramatically different standpoint, Dewey finds himself obligated to critique traditional accounts of knowledge and truth, diagnose the reasons they came about, and then reconstruct them as his own proposal. His proposal for epistemology is called ‘instrumentalism’. This chapter, then, has three main parts: critique, diagnosis, and proposal. It starts by briefly examining Dewey’s critique of three dominant epistemological schools: empiricism, rationalism, and Kantianism. Next it explains Dewey’s diagnoses for the sources of those schools’ errors.
Over time, this habit of approaching inquiry from a purely theoretical starting point can become institutionalized; the result is a tradition of philosophers engaged in these practices and the construction – out of living processes of questioning – of ultimate metaphysical explanations of how things really are. The lamentable result, Dewey notes, ‘is invariably some desiccation and atomizing of the world in which we live or of ourselves’ (LW6:7). Dewey proposed an alternative way of doing philosophy, which begins with a different approach to experience.
Dewey : a beginner's guide by David Hildebrand