The Life and Mind of John Dewey

The Life and Mind of John Dewey

The Life and Mind of John Dewey

The Life and Mind of John Dewey

Synopsis

Since Dewey's career and public services were even more extensive and varied than his writings, a knowledge of them is necessary for any adequate interpretation of his ideas and publications. This big and important biography traces the events of Dewey's ninety-two years and provides the chronology on which future scholarship must build.

By studying original source materials in Burlington and Charlotte, Vermont; Oil City, Pennsylvania; the University of Vermont; the Johns Hopkins University; the University of Michigan; the University of Minnesota; the University of Chicago; Columbia University; by combing newspapers, correspondence collections, institutional records, and particularly by establishing personal contact and communication with family members and colleagues, Professor Dykhuizen has been able to develop a comprehensive, minutely accurate, definitive portrait of John Dewey. Without point of view or thesis, the book systematically examines the life and mind of the man often called the philosopher of American democracy.

Excerpt

To have lived one's way in the Western world from the middle of the nineteenth century into the middle of the twentieth, and to have had a major part in shaping the intellectual character of the time through which one lived, is not only an extraordinary achievement in itself, but an achievement with many additional consequences. In John Dewey's case, one of these lies in the development of a philosophical framework for social thought which fuses social science with psychology and the natural sciences in a modern form of logic and empirical philosophy. Another lies in the lessons to be learned by students of social history from a life so entirely devoted to teaching, writing, and philosophical thinking in the environment of the university and its surrounding communities.

Another consequence, as important as any other, is that when the story of the philosopher's life and the body of ideas it has generated is told in detail, piece by piece, as in George Dykhuizen's meticulous account of Dewey's career, it makes the intellectual history of the Western world more tangible, and, in a certain way, more manageable. It shows intellectual and cultural changes in the process of being made, and indicates how the generalizations of a philosopher who is close to his own time infiltrate the culture and become part of the intellectual equipment of the generations in dealing with their own problems. One can feel a personal link with the past as one goes back year by year in gradual stages from a present Dewey helped to create to a point in nineteenth-century time, remote when looked at as a period in history, but close at hand when seen as the beginning of a set of experiences of a young man growing up in nineteenth-century Vermont and maturing in a wider America, until the experiences touched the whole world of the twentieth century. One is allowed to enter into those ex-

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