The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism

The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism

The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism

The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism

Synopsis

In this superb book, Andrew Feffer has provided us with the best account we have of this school and its thought and has placed the work of the Chicago philosophers in a set of illuminating contexts.... An important addition to a growing and increasingly sophisticated literature on pragmatism and its possibilities.-Robert B. Westbrook, History of Education Quarterly

Excerpt

Although consistent supporters of trade unionism throughout their tenures at Chicago, Dewey and his colleagues at first limited their labor activism to participating as experts on psychology and pedagogy in the movement for educational reform. That movement, a comfortable alternative to the harder world of industrial conflict, nonetheless addressed distinctly class issues, often from the perspective of the laboring poor.

It was in large part the opportunity to participate in the educational reform movement that attracted Dewey to Chicago in the first place: president William Rainey Harper offered him (in addition to a substantial salary increase and the ability to hire his own department) the direction of the pedagogy department, under which Dewey hoped to create an experimental school for applying and testing his educational and psychological theories. By 18 94 the University of Chicago already promised to become one of America's preeminent research and teaching institutions. Begun by Baptist elders with money supplied by John D. Rockefeller, the university in truth was controlled, and its future decisively formed, by Harper, its first president. University policy, partly to offset a reputation as the university of Standard Oil, stressed the importance of social service by faculty, an obligation encouraged by the broader context of Chicago politics and social activism. the social activist experience would be crucial in the development of Chicago pragmatism. But, although the university pro-

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