Who is John Dewey?June 25, 2021
John Dewey is a famous American philosopher and educational theorist who lived between 1859-1952 and was the founder of the philosophy movement known as instrumentalism. Having made a synthesis of the views of Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, Dewey developed pragmatism as a logical and moral theory of analysis.
He is a well-known American philosopher and educator. He was born in the state of Vermont. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1879 and from John Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1884. Between 1888 and 1904, he taught philosophy at the Universities of Minnesota, Michigan, and Chicago. During his last assignment, he brought important innovations to this field by implementing a training program based on new pedagogical ideas in a learning department he was the director of.
These new educational principles, which are compatible with the characteristics of democratic societies in the best way, have also affected teachers and educators in many European and Asian countries besides America. After this success, Dewey taught education and philosophy at Peking University for two years. Upon the application of our government in 1924, he prepared a report for the reorganization of our schools.
Dewey’s view of education is based on the development of democracy and industry. According to him, it is necessary to learn to apply, not to know. Because in this era, the industry is advancing at a great pace, many factories are opening and new machines are being used. People who will use them need practical knowledge rather than theoretical knowledge.
Dewey’s philosophy is based on instrumentalism. Accordingly, various states and movements of people can be considered as tools they have created to solve their personal and social problems. As matters change in length, the tools to deal with them must change as well.
In this case, what a person should do is not to learn and understand the environment, nature, but to take it under his control and arrange it in accordance with his wishes. This means that knowledge is useful and valuable for people only to the extent that they can apply it.
Dewey is an intellectual who believed in democracy. In this respect, it has had a great impact on education. Dewey was against the teaching of knowledge in the old customary way by the “all-knowing” teacher. He found it more appropriate for the student to acquire knowledge through his own experiments. Dewey’s system has started to be implemented in almost all schools of the world today, and the ideas he put forward have been adopted.
Dewey’s major works include:
School and Society; Influence of Darwin on Philosophy; Democracy and Education; Philosophy and Civilization; Experience and Nature.
John Dewey is affiliated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, which emerged in America at the end of the 19th century. Pragmatism is that the purpose of philosophy or thinking is not to find a true picture of the world; but it starts at the point of helping us how we can act more effectively in this world. If we have a pragmatic point of view, “Is this how things work?” should not ask, “What are the practical gains of adopting this perspective?” we should ask.
According to Dewey, philosophical problems are not abstract problems separate from people’s lives. They are the problem; because humans are living beings trying to grasp their own life and their world, struggling to decide how best to act in it. Philosophy begins with human hopes and expectations in daily life and the problems we encounter in the course of our lives. In this case, too, Dewey thinks that philosophy should be a method to find practical solutions to these problems. He believes that philosophizing requires being an active participant in life’s problems rather than being a “watcher” looking at the world from afar.
Dewey was born in Vermont just before the start of the American Civil War. The year he was born is the year Charles Darwin published his masterpiece The Origin of Species. Interestingly, the theory of evolution gave color to Dewey’s philosophical thought. In all his works, Dewey tried to reveal the consequences of the theory of evolution.
Dewey’s views on the nature of philosophy include the naturalization of epistemology on the one hand and the theory of values on the other. By naturalization it is meant here to make nature and nature a part of the evolutionary change it is in. The main thing for us humans, who interact with nature, is to solve the problems we face. There are as many different understandings of knowledge as there are different types of operations to solve these problems. Different ideas, concepts and methods used in different branches of science are just tools we use to reach our own goals and solve the problems we face. These tools vary according to the problems we are trying to solve. This approach of Dewey towards knowledge and science is called instrumentalism.