While examining the important role of imagination in making moral judgments, John Dewey and Moral Imagination focuses new attention on the relationship between American pragmatism and ethics. Steven Fesmire takes up threads of Dewey's thought that have been largely unexplored and elaborates pragmatism's distinctive contribution to understandings of moral experience, inquiry, and judgment. Building on two Deweyan notions—that moral character, belief, and reasoning are part of a social and historical context and that moral deliberation is an imaginative, dramatic rehearsal of (...) possibilities—Fesmire shows that moral imagination can be conceived as a process of aesthetic perception and artistic creativity. Fesmire's original readings of Dewey shed new light on the imaginative process, human emotional make-up and expression, and the nature of moral judgment. This original book presents a robust and distinctly pragmatic approach to ethics, politics, moral education, and moral conduct. [The downloadable sample is Chapter Seven, "The Moral Artist."]. (shrink)
John Dewey was the dominant voice in American philosophy through the World Wars, the Great Depression, and the nascent years of the Cold War. With a professional career spanning three generations and a profile that no public intellectual has operated on in the U.S. since, Dewey's biographer Robert Westbrook accurately describes him as "the most important philosopher in modern American history." In this superb and engaging introduction, Steven Fesmire begins with a chapter on Dewey’s life and works, before discussing and (...) assessing Dewey's key ideas across the major disciplines in philosophy; including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, educational philosophy, social-political philosophy, and religious philosophy. This is an invaluable introduction and guide to this deeply influential philosopher and his legacy, and essential reading for anyone coming to Dewey's work for the first time. (shrink)
the two-and-a-half years that Dewey lived in Japan and China offered him an East-West comparative standpoint to examine Euro-American presuppositions. In subsequent work, he took steps in the direction of a global philosophical outlook by promoting a fusion of aesthetic refinements with democratic experimentalism. The year 2021 marks the centennial of Dewey’s return to the United States, yet philosophers in this country have only begun to take in an emerging global philosophical scene that includes unfamiliar questions, angles, idioms, and emphases. (...) This includes American pragmatists. In a sense, as Gregory Pappas has observed in the context of Latin American philosophies, pragmatism did not “grow up” in the United... (shrink)
John Dewey was the dominant voice in American philosophy through the World Wars, the Great Depression, and the nascent years of the Cold War. With a professional career spanning three generations and a profile that no public intellectual has operated on in the U.S. since, Dewey's biographer Robert Westbrook accurately describes him as "the most important philosopher in modern American history." In this superb and engaging introduction, Steven Fesmire begins with a chapter on Dewey’s life and works, before discussing and (...) assessing Dewey's key ideas across the major disciplines in philosophy; including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, educational philosophy, social-political philosophy, and religious philosophy. This is an invaluable introduction and guide to this deeply influential philosopher and his legacy, and essential reading for anyone coming to Dewey's work for the first time. [The downloadable sample is Chapter Four, "Ethics Reconstructed."]. (shrink)
Media fact-checkers promptly corrected Marco Rubio when he called for more vocational education during the November 2015 GOP presidential debate: “Welders make more money than philosophers,” he said. “We need more welders than philosophers.” It was widely pointed out in response to Senator Rubio’s remark that, on average, those who major in philosophy at a college or university tend to have higher salaries than professional welders. But this point, despite its utility for promoting philosophy as an academic major, is a (...) distraction from the insistent social question: what, if any, is the chief mission of education?In Woman and the Nineteenth Century, Margaret Fuller admonished the practice of educating girls... (shrink)
Relational philosophies developed in classical American pragmatism and the Kyoto School of modern Japanese philosophy suggest aims for greater ecological responsiveness in moral education. To better guide education, we need to know how ecological perception becomes relevant to our deliberations. Our deliberations enlist imagination of a specifically ecological sort when the imaginative structures we use to understand ecosystemic relationships shape our mental simulations and rehearsals. Enriched through cross-cultural dialogue, a finely aware ecological imagination can make the deliberations of the coming (...) generation more trustworthy. (shrink)
Environmental thinkers recognize that ecological thinking has a vital role to play in many wise choices and policies; yet, little theoretical attention has been given to developing an adequate philosophical psychology of the imaginative nature of such thinking. Ecological imagination is an outgrowth of our more general deliberative capacity to perceive, in light of possibilities for thinking and acting, the relationships that constitute any object. Such imagination is of a specifically ecological sort when key metaphors, images, symbols, and the like (...) used in the ecologies shape the mental simulations we use to deliberate—i.e., when these interpretive structures shape what John Dewey calls our “dramatic rehearsals.” There is an urgent practical need to cultivate ecological imagination, and an equally practical need to make theoretical sense of the imaginative dimension of ecological reflection. (shrink)
[Excerpt from first lines] In answer to a friend's query about my current pursuits, I hoisted Lakoff and Johnson's six-hundred-page magnum opus into his hands. "Reviewing this." Thoughtfully weighing the imposing book in one palm, he pronounced: " Philosophy in the Flesh? It needs to go on a diet!" I laughingly agreed, then in good philosopher's form analyzed his joke. He had conceived the book metaphorically as a person, as when we speak of books "inspiring" us or being "great company" (...) and even as being "fat" or "thin." His cleverness lay in perceiving a novel entailment of this metaphor: just as an overweight person may need to diet, a long book may need to be shortened. In addition, he used a conventional metaphor in which means are conceived as paths, thus one may "go on" a diet for the purpose of losing weight as one goes on a path toward a destination. All in the spirit of Lakoff and Johnson. "The question is clear," they say. "Do you choose empirical responsibility or a priori philosophical assumptions? Most of what you believe about philosophy and much of what you believe about life will depend on your answer". Choosing the path of empirical responsibility, we are primed to accept three central findings about the mind and language that have emerged from "second generation" cognitive science …. (shrink)
Sustainable Values, Sustainable Change is a culminating work written for a general audience of environmental professionals. In keeping with what he has long urged for environmental philosophers, Norton focuses on ameliorative processes for resolving disagreements, on making decisions, while sidestepping the monistic quest for the right general principles to think about and govern human relationships with nature. Norton presupposes his “convergence hypothesis” familiar to readers of this journal: multi-scalar anthropocentric arguments, he holds, usually justify the same policies as ecocentric arguments; (...) hence, it is not essential to convince doubters that parts of nature have intrinsic value. Norton’s principal aim in this new work is to spell out his “heuristic proceduralism” while showing that Adaptive Ecosystem Management’s pluralistic model of sustainability works better for real decision making than the narrow focus on economic welfare in mainstream environmental economics. Environmental philosophers will also rightly read the book as, in part, Norton’s seasoned response to a familiar accusation: that pragmatic pluralism is too mushy to guide action, hence ethicists must fall back on defense of antecedent principles. (shrink)
[Abstract drawn from the development of these ideas in John Dewey and Moral Imagination (2003, ch. 3): To present the pragmatic turn from transcendental reason to engaged intelligence in a way that emphasizes the magnitude of their break from the philosophic tradition while correcting standing prejudices, it is helpful to turn the spotlight on James. This essay sketches several interrelated claims about James's notions of reason and truth: Reason is embodied, evolving, and practical, and as such it is subject to (...) physical, conceptual, and historical constraints. Further, reasoning is contingent upon perspectives and is characterized by an educated aesthetic response that can emerge from trust in a situation's potentialities. (shrink)
It is of course essential to disclose passively accepted beliefs that inhabit and shape the roots and edges of American philosophy if the scope of our tradition is to continue to evolve to meet situations that seldom fit neatly into inherited categories. Our dialogue with Roger Fouts is an occasion for supplementing and correcting uncritical perpetuation of narrowly (vs. broadly) humanistic intellectual habits. His lecture is also an occasion for confronting complex issues of how best to comport ourselves toward other (...) species. With notable exceptions such as McKenna and Light’s Animal Pragmatism and the work of Paul Thompson, scholars working in the American grain have taken a back seat to utilitarian .. (shrink)
The past few decades have witnessed a growing concern to reveal the futility of the quest for absolute, ahistorical rational standards. Instead, philosophers have sought theories that will prove responsive to the humanness of rationality. The classical pragmatist tradition in American philosophy provides a tremendously fruitful yet still too often overlooked framework for accommodating, clarifying, and extending current explorations of human reason. To present the pragmatic turn from transcendental reason to engaged intelligence in a way that emphasizes the magnitude of (...) their break from the philosophic tradition while correcting standing prejudices, it is helpful to turn the spotlight on James. This essay sketches several interrelated claims about James's notions of reason and truth: Reason is embodied, evolving, and practical, and as such it is subject to physical, conceptual, and historical constraints. Further, reasoning is contingent upon perspectives and is characterized by an educated aesthetic response that can emerge from trust in a situation's potentialities. (shrink)
In this rare mixture of conservative anti-egalitarianism and Deweyan pluralism, James Gouinlock echoes John Dewey’s paean that philosophers must turn away from pseudo-problems manufactured philosophers and toward the pressing lessons and potentialities of mortal existence. “Moral philosophy,” he urges, “is at the service of the moral life” (p. 82). Its role is to discern the nature of the human moral condition, reflect on its lessons and possibilities, and give it intelligent direction by distinguishing suitable values. (...).
This topically organized, interdisciplinary anthology provides competing perspective on the claim that western culture faces a moral crisis. Using clearly written, accessible essays by well-known authors in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities, the book introduces students to a variety of perspectives on the current cultural debate about values that percolates beneath the surface of most of our social and political controversies.
This engrossing collection of interviews with nine notables of the contemporary American philosophical scene provides an unparalleled introductory survey of “post-analytic” thought. With her European flair for the literary conversation, Borradori has produced a work both provocative and delightful. Fluid prose and groundbreaking rarity make the book a must- read for anyone trying better to understand the current climate of philosophy in America. (…).
Recent sociological studies, like Robert Bellah’s Habits of the Heart, support the claim that Americans retain an ideal of isolated self-sufficiency. Yet the material conditions of our culture require ideals that shun exclusiveness and encourage associated living. The result of this dissonance is that Americans tend to approach their own and others’ values in a way that boils down to irrational personal preference. …Such is the cultural predicament that a theory of moral education must ultimately confront. In this essay I (...) articulate a Deweyan theory of moral understanding that makes our moral decisions and social commitments intelligible, enabling us to give empirically warranted, substantive justifications for our valuations. I argue that an emphasis on educating moral imagination could gradually lead our culture beyond its fossilized individualistic ideals. I further argue that any theory of moral education that ignores moral imagination is empirically irresponsible. (…). (shrink)
Clarifies the nature of a cognitive approach to human understanding and experience, and forestalls objections that cognitive linguistics is either too intellectualistic and subjectivistic, or too physicalistic in its treatment of understanding and meaning. The objection is addressed that conceptual metaphors are overly conceptual, that they are mentalistic to the detriment of a full-blooded account of the bodily, practical, and social dimensions of meaning and symbolic interaction.
Recent advances in the cognitive sciences suggest that cognition is grounded in our embodied experience. This article supports this claim by analyzing the way we conceptualize our emotions metaphorically in terms of bodily processes. Our emotions are not merely matters of subjective feeling. Rather, emotions have stable conceptual structures that have emerged from our embodied activity through metaphorical projections, structures that are shared in a culture and can be disclosed by empirical inquiry. This article explores the metaphorical structuring of anxiety (...) in terms of our experience of breathing. The correlation in our experience between mental functioning and bodily functioning, which leads to the emergence of metaphorical understanding, is of special concern. The article elaborates on how features of our experience of inhibited breathing map onto our experience of mental disquietude. The analysis draws primarily from Johnson (1987), Lakoff (1987), Lakoff and Johnson (1980), and Reddy (1979) and borrows insight from James and Perls. (shrink)