John Dewey and the Universality of Scientific Inquiry
Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools
And the beacons of wise men.
-- Thomas Henry Huxley, Animal Automatism
B y the seventh decade of the nineteenth century, the United States had evolved the world's first successful international immigrant culture. It had been inspired by great naturalists such as Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Paine; nourished by immigration; forged by revolution; and tested by civil war. It was a vigorous culture that tended to produce an abundance of inquiring minds, technical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, but few of the truly great whose ideas were destined to change the world. One such, however, was John Dewey, the small-town boy who was to become America's first internationally renowned philosopher.
John Dewey was born in Vermont the year On the Origin of Species was published, and died almost a century later. During that period he witnessed and contributed to fundamental changes in human civilization. In his lifetime he became one of the world's greatest educators. He earned a reputation as his country's most original philosopher. He was, in fact, the major contributor to the only authentic American philosophy yet devised. In addition, his published works on the nature of ethics and morality, logic, psychology, art, religion, science and democracy offer us insights surprisingly useful as guides to solving the current crises of humanity.
Dewey was a contemporary of Ivan Pavlov but, unfortunately for the growth of human understanding, the two thinkers seem not to have encountered one another in any meaningful way. Both were deeply influenced by the theories of Herbert Spencer and would have been natural and mutually enriching allies. Dewey's major contribution was the spelling-out of a comprehen-