Graduate studies at Western
Education and Culture (forthcoming)
|Abstract||Although Dewey’s influence has remained strong amongst the community of educators, his reputation amongst philosophers has had a remarkably volatile history. He was unquestionably the most influential figure in American philosophy until his death in 1952. Almost immediately after his death, however, Dewey’s writings almost completely disappeared from the American philosophy syllabus. They were replaced by the analytic philosophers of the logical positivist tradition, who thought that philosophical problems could be solved by unraveling puzzles that came from a lack of understanding of proper language use. After several decades, however, the inadequacies of this view became unavoidably obvious, and the next generation of analytically trained philosophers began to find themselves saying things that sounded remarkably like Dewey. Many analytic philosophers began to use the word “pragmatist” to describe some aspect of their positions: Quine, Churchland, Davidson, Feyerabend, Rorty, Putnam, among many others. Putnam and Rorty, in particular, have made a serious effort to restudy the original pragmatist texts, and reinterpret them for use in modern contexts. Not everyone is satisfied with their reinterpretations, however. Rorty, in particular has been criticized in some detail by Dewey scholars (see especially Saatkamp 1995). But Rorty admits that his ideas differ significantly from Dewey’s, because he is trying to revive only those aspects of Dewey’s ideas which are relevant for our times. I will argue, however, that those aspects of pragmatism which Rorty claims are the most relevant are actually the most out of date, and vice versa.|
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