The Presence of the Past: John Dewey and Alfred Schutz on the Genesis and Organization of Experience

The Presence of the Past: John Dewey and Alfred Schutz on the Genesis and Organization of Experience

The Presence of the Past: John Dewey and Alfred Schutz on the Genesis and Organization of Experience

The Presence of the Past: John Dewey and Alfred Schutz on the Genesis and Organization of Experience

Excerpt

Some social scientists have lost their way, because they blindly follow paths cut by colleagues in the physical sciences. Others have gone astray because they abandoned science altogether. As a result, social science -- perhaps in an effort to find itself -- has lost sight of man, the subject of its study. Only through a metatheoretical examination of human experience will social science regain its bearings. John Dewey and Alfred Schutz can give clearer direction to such an examination. This study attempts to organize and underline some of what they have to offer. Neither Dewey nor Schutz finds answers to all the problems that are shrouded in the mystery of human experience; however, they clarify many of them. "Of my results I am not so sure," said Schutz. "Others may do better; but of one thing I am deeply convinced. Here are the problems of the social sciences."

This study began in courses taught by Peter Berger at Rutgers University. It developed into a dissertation under the direction of James E. Wheeler. After further work, it took its present form. More people than I can acknowledge and thank properly have helped along the way. I am indebted particularly to the thoughtful criticism of my father, Jean Francis Webb, who said of this work, "What it lacks in plot it more than makes up for in humor." I am also grateful to Mrs. Alfred Schutz for her invaluable cooperation. Special thanks go to Michele Lepore and James Giarelli, who doggedly tracked down footnotes and gave other editorial assistance. It is impossible to thank adequately my wife, Elise: what she has taught me of human experience is a special contribution.

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