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4. John Dewey


Subject Philosophy

People Mead, George Herbert

Key-Topics pragmatism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405116213.2005.00008.x


John Dewey was America's leading philosopher throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Many Americans during that period considered him to be the foremost intellectual of his time. Some still do. Others, both then and now, have demurred. There can be no doubt, however, that he was highly regarded by the public at large, especially between the two world wars. A 1926 New Yorker article, “The Man Who Made Us What We Are,” described Dewey as the most influential American alive. The philosophical ideas that Dewey espoused were the subject of controversy from the start. Philosophers of contrary views pounced on them almost at once and were quick to point out what they took to be the essential defects or weaknesses of Dewey's ideas. Critics of one kind or another have continued the assault over the years (see Morgenbesser 1977 ). Popular versions of Dewey's thought, in the form of his many less technical books, essays, and opinion pieces, have aroused fully as much controversy as have his more specialized writings. Though the heat of that controversy has waxed and waned over the years, it discernibly persists today in both public forums and professional enclaves. A partial explanation of Dewey's notoriety lies in the fact that he lived so long and wrote so much. He sprang into prominence quite early in his academic career and remained there to the very end of his life. Throughout ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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