John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time

John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time

John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time

John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time

Excerpt

A visitor to the United States in the 1830s may well have considered it to be an intellectual wasteland. One of America's leading lights, Ralph Waldo Emerson, seemed to admit as much when he asked, in an 1836 journal entry, why "there is no genius in the Arts in this country" (Allen, 285). After spending parts of 1831 and 1832 in the United States, a now famous visitor was led to comment on the country's almost total lack of philosophical curiosity. "I think," wrote Tocqueville, "that in no country in the civilized world is less attention paid to philosophy than in the United States" (De Tocqueville, 143).

Within a generation, the literary output of the new nation would respond to Emerson's question by revealing some genius in the literary arts. Emerson own essay Nature came out in 1836, and Poe Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840. The decade of the '50s opened with Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter, followed quickly (1851) by Melville Moby-Dick, Thoreau Walden (1854), and Whitman Leaves of Grass (1855).

It took a little longer for the philosophical muse to be heard. Religious and political questions had occasioned quasi-philosophical reflection and writing since before the Declaration of Independence. But the emergence of individuals for whom the whole panoply of philosophical questions could be worn with ease did not come until the generation which followed that of Emerson and Hawthorne. The births of these thinkers coincided with the literary renaissance of the mid-nineteenth century: Charles Sanders Peirce (1839), William James (1842), Josiah Royce (1855), John Dewey (1859). and George Herbert Mead (1862). Their writings began to appear in the last third of the 1800s. Worldwide recognition came with the opening of the new century.

As if to signal the rising prominence of American philosophy in the 1900s, the new century's opening was marked by the invi-

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.