- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Enlarged edition (June 11 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486434389
- ISBN-13: 978-0486434384
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 21.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #555,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Reconstruction in Philosophy Paperback – Jun 11 2004
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For those of us trying to make sense of the world and the institutions we devise to cope with it, John Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy offers tremendous insight. Writing a few years after World War I, the highly regarded American philosopher chose to embrace the modern sense of scientific optimism and apply it to the search for truth. He argued forcefully that our philosophical constructions are not based in reason, but only use higher thinking to justify themselves, and that we might find better ways of living if we examine our deepest beliefs and feelings with an eye toward their ultimate effects on us and others. This experimental philosophy, pragmatism, took several steps beyond the previous century's utilitarianism and was both hailed and reviled as a subsumption of philosophy and ethics into science.
Written as lectures, Reconstruction in Philosophy is marginally less dry than other philosophical tracts, but for readers new to the jargon, some sections can be slow-going. The pleasure of Dewey's works, though, comes from the intellectual stimulation of following a brilliant mind into then-uncharted epistemological territory. The last chapter, "Reconstruction As Affecting Social Philosophy," foreshadows so much 20th-century political thinking--from across the spectrum--that it ought to be required reading in high school civics classes. Did pragmatism change our lives for the better? The very fact that we can ask such a question is Dewey's legacy; the answer must remain an open question. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"It was with this book that Dewey fully launched his campaign for experimental philosophy." - The New Republic --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Dewy has a bone to pick with traditional philosophy. Not only has it lost track with real, as opposed to academic, problems (anyone walking down the street can tell us this) but it never really was that good at depicting real questions and descriptions anyway. Take comcepts like Plato's ideal forms and Kant's a priori. Neither of these are teneble in any realm of experience; rather, they were a misguided quest to explain the permanance and stability of the world.
Dewey's book is an attempt to pull the carpet out from under their feet; science and inquiry using its methods shows us that the world changes and if anything, stability is something that is felt by us - not inherent in the world. Thus a prioris, ideal forms, seperation of the noumenal and phenouminal amongst other current 'problems' in philosophy - all based on the idea of permanant/transitory dichotomy - are not only wearing thin, but are fast showing to be irrelevant. From this, he builds the groundwork of a philosophy in between rationalism and empiricism. Taking from rationalism an admiration and recognition of reason's power to direct action and combining it with empiricims fascination with experience, Dewey creates a philosophy that puts the spotlight not on one or the other, but on both as leading to and taking from eachother.
The first chapter are a philosophical survey of how philosophy went wrong; particularly in Ancient Greek and early Christian philosophy (both having a love affair with absolutes outside of experience). The second chapter focuses on the mistakes when philosophers, like Francis Bacon, widened the chasm between the real and experiential and the ideal and rational.
From here, Dewey proceeds piece by piece to show what was wrong and how to fix it by making clear tht scienctific inquiry (the equal interaction between subject and object) leaves no room for absolutes, forms or a prioris (or at least, not in any pragmatically useful sense). By extension, things like formal rules of logic above experience, non-experimentalism in moral or political theory and psychology that includes the individual without an equal part of the social; all of these become little more than unfounded but continually persisting glorifications.
For the reader interested in Dewey, naturalism, instrumentalism or the implications of pragmatism, this is a great introduction. From here, I suggest Dewey's "The Quest for Certainty" followed by "Experience and Nature", topped off with "Human Nature and Conduct".
This often-overlooked book is the perfect antidote to the image of the philosopher as an out-of-touch abstract intellectual,
Some readers may find Dewey's prose awkward and occasionally difficult, but for those interested in a history of philosophy which is more than a chronological recounting of philosophical systems, "Reconstruction" is well worth the effort.