Cover image for Transforming experience : John Dewey's cultural instrumentalism
Transforming experience : John Dewey's cultural instrumentalism
Eldridge, Michael.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 236 pages ; 23 cm.
Personal Subject:

Format :


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B945.D44 E43 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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John Dewey (1859-1952) wanted, above all, for his contemporaries to live more intelligently so that they could live better. This is what informed his life-long activities as an academic, a public philosopher, and an educator.

Author Notes

Michael Eldridge has worked as a community and political organizer and as a religious professional. He currently teaches philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Through this act of filial devotion, many years of close reading, and an admirable familiarity with virtually all the secondary studies of John Dewey, Eldridge (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) attempts to identify and explain "Dewey's lifelong project," which is "his concern for intelligent action," his goal of "intelligizing practice." Though aesthetics and metaphysics are mentioned, Eldridge focuses on Dewey's social, political and religious philosophy. The key words in this explication--and we come to understand clearly Dewey's distinctive use of them through this study--include "intelligence, "science," "democracy," "experience," "ordered richness," "criticism," and "cultural instrumentalism." There are revealing treatments of Dewey's views on capitalism, socialism, violence, and the two World Wars. Often Dewey is defended against the criticism of profound thinkers like Reinhold Niebuhr or John Herman Randall Jr., or from that of thinkers identified as not so profound, like John Patrick Diggins. The last two chapters establish a thesis very important to Eldridge, "that Dewey was a resolutely secular thinker, despite his selective use of traditionally religious language" in words like "God," "the religious,", "faith," and "piety." This is a very capable addition to the burgeoning number of studies of Dewey. Recommended for all levels. J. M. Betz; Villanova University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1. Introduction: Dewey's Lifelong Effortp. 3
Dewey's Projectp. 4
My Projectp. 7
2. Intelligent Practice: Dewey's Projectp. 13
Rorty's Challengep. 14
Dewey's Natural Intelligencep. 17
Intelligence as an End-in-View: The Philosophic Movep. 26
Experience and Its Possibilitiesp. 36
3. Transforming Society: Dewey's Cultural Instrumentalismp. 43
Misreading Deweyp. 44
The Dewey-Niebuhr "Debate"p. 52
Dewey and the Means for Social Reconstructionp. 62
"Genuine Instrumentality" and Democratic Meansp. 67
Dewey's Limited Successp. 82
4. A Transforming Society: Democratic Means and Endsp. 85
Dewey as a Political Inquirerp. 87
Ordered Richnessp. 97
Instrumentalism and Ideals in Deweyp. 109
Looking Ahead: A Matter of Faithp. 123
5. Dewey's Religious Proposalp. 126
Handling Dewey's Religious Proposal with Carep. 127
Dewey's Faithp. 130
A Common Faithp. 145
Religion: Not Dewey's Problemp. 167
6. The Secularity of Deweyan Criticismp. 170
Dewey's Secular Approachp. 171
Social Intelligence and Secular Humanismp. 178
The Limitations--Real and Alleged--of Dewey's Instrumentalismp. 184
"Thoughtful Valuation" and the Cultural Orientation of Dewey's Instrumentalismp. 194
Notesp. 203
Bibliographyp. 224
Indexp. 230