Philosophy as education and education as philosophy: Democracy and education from Dewey to Cavell

Journal of Philosophy of Education 40 (3):345–356 (2006)
Abstract
In the contemporary culture of accountability and the ‘economy’ of education this generates, pragmatism, as a philosophy for ordinary practice, needs to resist the totalising force of an ideology of practice, one that distracts us from the rich qualities of daily experience. In response to this need, and in mobilising Dewey's pragmatism, this paper introduces another standpoint in American philosophy: Stanley Cavell's account of the economy of living in Thoreau's Walden. By discussing some aspects of Cavell's The Senses of Walden that suggest both apparent similarities and radical differences between Thoreau and Dewey, I shall argue that Cavell discovers rich dimensions of practice in Thoreau's American philosophy, ones that are overshadowed in Dewey's pragmatism: that he demonstrates another way of ‘making a difference in practice’. Cavell, as a critical interlocutor of Dewey, from within American philosophy, offers a way of using language in resistance to the rhetoric of accountability and in service to the creation of democracy as a way of life. I shall conclude by suggesting that the enriched tradition of American philosophy from Dewey to Cavell is to be found in their promotion of philosophy as education and education as philosophy
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