Democracy is not in reality what it is in name until it is
industrial, as well as civil and political.
JOHN DEWEY, THE ETHICS OF DEMOCRACY (1888)
IN 1884 DEWEY COMPLETED graduate work in philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and began teaching at the University of Michigan. A committed Christian and Hegelian philosopher, he had little interest in societal theory or problems of democracy. By 1888, however, his interests and orientation had changed radically.
For a complex set of personal and intellectual reasons, which were probably influenced by the social and ideological conflicts then angrily dividing American society, Dewey enthusiastically advocated a new social theory. It was based on the “neo-Hegelian understanding of society as a peculiar kind of moral organism and the related notion of individual freedom within this organic society as the positive freedom to make the best of oneself as a social being and not merely the negative freedom from external restraint or compulsion.”1
Having been converted during the mid-1880s to a participatory democratic theory of organic society based on the positive interaction between the common good and individual self-development, in 1888 Dewey published his long essay “The Ethics of Democracy.” To present and support his own views, Dewey formed his essay into a sharp critique of Sir Henry Maine's influential denunciation of democracy in Popular Government (1885). Echoing ancient Greek and modern