John Dewey’s Key Interests and Views of Knowledge

John Dewey’s Key Interests and Views of Knowledge

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Beginning his career as a Hegelian idealist, whose philosophy evolved from absolute idealism to experimental pragmatism, he was also heavily influenced by evolutionary biology, and as a result of this situation, his ideas on philosophy, the basic theses of natural sciences and art, and his views on social and cultural institutions were clarified. Dewey, who undertakes the task of understanding the beliefs that affect human life and society, opposed the traditional understanding of knowledge that separates nature and the knowing human mind, and argued that experience reveals problems to be solved, and that man, who is not a passive being, learns to change and transform nature.

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The concept of experience is at the center of Dewey’s entire philosophy, not just his views of knowledge. According to Dewey, experience is active as well as passive, social as well as individual, objective as well as subjective, dynamic and continuous. In the first experience, man encounters the poles of stability and uncertainty, the actual and the ideal; it also captures attributes, events and dates. All these, the structure and basic features discovered in experience, are the basic characteristics of existence and therefore nature.

According to Dewey, human beings have to create meanings that serve to stabilize the uncertain and even irregular flow of events. Their political economies, arts, religions, sciences, and philosophies are nothing but attempts to create meaningful continuity and stability. It is within this framework that he deals with the subject of knowledge. Indeed, Dewey thinks of the human mind as a part of nature. Thus knowledge appears in him as any natural activity, such as the rotation of the world, the birth of a child, eating. Knowledge is embedded in human experience, as it is a natural phenomenon related to human beings. According to Dewey, the act of acquiring knowledge in human experience begins not only when we begin to think, but when we begin to think intensely and deeply.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook