- Dewey, John
- (1859–1952)American educator, social reformer, and philosopher of pragmatism . Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont, and had a relatively undistinguished academic career, until he enlisted at Johns Hopkins, America's first graduate university, in 1881. At this time he was influenced by Hegel, and his writings never lost an enthusiasm for the dynamic, the vital, and the progressive. His work took on a steadily more practical bent when in 1894 he became chairman of the department of philosophy, psychology, and education in Chicago. Here he remained for ten years before removing to Columbia, where the Journal of Philosophy became largely a house magazine for discussions about and by Dewey. His work as a psychologist and educational thinker crystallized a reaction against the excessively formal and rigid educational practices of the time. Dewey recognized that the child is an active, exploring, inquisitive creature, so the task of education is to foster experience infused by skills and knowledge. Dewey's enormous influence owed more to his skill at expounding the pragmatic, scientific, and democratic progressiveness of the America of his time than to accurate or technical philosophical argument. But his development of the pragmatism of James and Peirce remains influential. In his hands enquiry is a self-corrective process conducted in a specific historical and cultural circumstance; it requires no foundation in certainty or ‘the given ’, and knowledge is just that which is warranted through enquiry. Dewey expressed his views in a torrent of books and articles: the centennial bibliography of his work contains more than one hundred and fifty pages.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.