Some Preliminary Questions for John Dewey & Pragmatism

My copy of the Dewey text I’ll ultimately be focusing on for this “Ignorance Blog” is still somewhere in the mail.  So, since that is not an option at the moment.  I’d like to take this opportunity to record some of the questions that have arisen in some reading I’ve been completing for other assignments.  These readings are somewhat more peripheral to the Dewey Oeuvre (say that 10 times fast!) than Experience & Education, and have been selected as pairs for readings in Arendt, and Vanderstraeten & Biesta.

The following are some of the questions that have arisen in the course of these readings so far:

1.  How much will the classification of a given reading in Dewey as either “Late” or “early” have a bearing on the philosophical and other arguments he is making in that particular paper?

2.  What did Dewey specifically take for granted in terms of the structures of the society he was so often criticizing in his writing?  What were his “blind spots?” (e.g. Plato’s non-treatment of the issue of slavery in The Republic)

3.  Dewey has a troublesomely macho view of American history which he gives a glimpse of at the beginning of his paper, “Creative Democracy– The Task Before Us.”  Was he taking this sort of tone for the sake of argument only?  What might a feminist critique of Dewey look like?  Surely this exists already…

4.  How is the notion of “crisis” at the heart of Dewey’s “Creative Democracy” the same or different from the “crisis” Arendt writes about in her essay, “The Crisis in Education?”

5.  What is a concrete example of how someone might “apply democracy individually or personally?” (Dewey “Creative” p. 226)

6.  How would Dewey describe Human Nature?

7. What would it mean for education to be a “correlate of intelligence?” (p. 227)

8.  How close is Dewey’s notion of individual “habit” to Bourdieu’s habitus?  How would I describe either one of those w/o an excess of jargon?  Shall I just throw this jargon out for now?

9.  When Dewey writes: “…the expression of difference is not only a right of the other persons but is a means of enriching one’s own life-experience,” does this approximate a Derrida’s “justice-as-difference?”

10.  What the heck is a “commonplace of living?” (p. 229)

11. How far will Dewey take his professed “democratic faith?”  Is this a faith in democracy (as a just system, for example) or a faith characterized by its democratic quality?  It is interesting that Dewey seems to find it necessary/ expedient to describe “the democratic faith in the formal terms of a philosophic position.”

12.  What would Dewey say are the chief alternatives to the democratic way of life? (p. 229)

13.  What are Dewey’s beliefs about “science” exactly?

OK, so, there is a baker’s dozen of questions, and that’s just to do with the first essay.  I’ll likely post some more questions tomorrow– focusing more on the second article.  Also, more thorough bibliographical citations are coming soon.