The End of Epistemology: Dewey and His Current Allies on the Spectator Theory of Knowledge

The End of Epistemology: Dewey and His Current Allies on the Spectator Theory of Knowledge

The End of Epistemology: Dewey and His Current Allies on the Spectator Theory of Knowledge

The End of Epistemology: Dewey and His Current Allies on the Spectator Theory of Knowledge

Synopsis

Kulp provides a thorough examination of John Dewey's influential arguments against traditional theories of knowledge; in particular against the thesis that knowing is fundamentally a passive "beholding" relation between the knower and the object known and ultimately, he finds them deficient. He also lays the basis for a defense of a spectator theory of having knowledge, a basis that incorporates important considerations about introspective knowledge.

Excerpt

The pragmatists have figured prominently in the twentieth century's considerable philosophical tumult, and few among them have loomed so large as John Dewey. Indeed, one could scarcely dispute that during the close of the nineteenth and throughout the first half of this century Dewey expended prodigious effort to prodigious effect: in a remarkable array of books, articles, and addresses he left virtually no sphere of philosophical inquiry without his imprint. And even though his death in 1952 silenced his voice, his influence remains very much with us. It is in fact on the ascendancy.

Why this increased popularity? Broadly speaking, because a growing number of philosophers are finding in Dewey's work not only powerful criticisms of nonpragmatic philosophies but persuasive directives for philosophy's reconfiguration as well. A diverse lot, among them are various specialists in American pragmatism--some of them Deweyans of a relatively doctrinaire sort--as well as a few better known as "analysts" (in the broad sense of the term), but it is probably Richard Rorty who has been most influential in reinvigorating the Dewey legacy. In publications such as Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature and Consequences of Pragmatism, both of which are attracting attention in diverse philosophical quarters, Rorty sets out to undermine traditional conceptions of mind, knowledge, and what philosophy should investigate and seek to achieve. And to execute this project he draws upon not only Dewey's constructive philosophical theses, but also (and especially) his criticisms of traditional, nonpragmatic philosophers and schools of thought. This role of iconoclastic mentor is one that Dewey would have welcomed: since early in his career he was profoundly disenamored of much that preceded him--surely more so than most philosophers--and he spared no effort in . . .

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