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John Dewey (b. 1859–d. 1952) was America’s foremost philosopher and public intellectual during the first half of the 20th century. As a leading representative of the Progressive movement, Dewey’s educational, ethical, economic, and political views embodied that movement’s demands for the expansion of liberty and opportunity in more democratic societies. Prominent examples of this liberalism are his support for women’s suffrage, equal rights for immigrants and minorities, economic justice, and world peace. He would be rightly categorized as a democratic socialist, and he rejected Communism and governments tending toward fascism or totalitarianism. Dewey’s intellectual foundations lay in his seminal contributions to psychology, pedagogy, and pragmatism. Both functionalist and behaviorist psychology partly sprang from his work at the University of Chicago during the 1890s, and this dynamic view of intelligence infused his original theories about childhood education and life-long learning. Since all learning is basically experimental, Dewey partnered with Charles Peirce and William James to develop pragmatism’s view that the knowable is what is empirically confirmable after putting thoughts into action. From epistemology to philosophy of mind, pragmatism abandons Platonic, Cartesian, and Kantian views that reality and knowledge are statically structured by necessary and unchanging principles. For Dewey, only experience’s explorations of the world ultimately determine the meaning, value, and validity of ideas and propositions, including those of mathematics, logic, science, and philosophy itself. His version of pragmatism, which he usually labeled as “instrumentalism” or empirical naturalism,” has also been influential in the fields of aesthetics, ethics, social theory, philosophy of technology, and philosophy of religion. Dewey taught at Columbia University from 1905 until he retired in 1929 and was a presence there as professor emeritus until 1939. He also traveled the world; major journeys include lecturing in Japan and China from 1919 to 1921, a 1924 stay in Turkey as Ataturk’s educational consultant, and a tour of USSR schools in 1928. Dewey’s thought is respected in many countries, and it has been productively compared and blended with aspects of Asian philosophy in particular.
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John Dewey
John R. Shook
LAST MODIFIED: 29 MAY 2019
DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396577-0227
Introduction
John Dewey (b. 1859–d. 1952) was America’s foremost philosopher and public intellectual during the first half of the 20th century. As a leading representative of the
Progressive movement, Dewey’s educational, ethical, economic, and political views embodied that movement’s demands for the expansion of liberty and opportunity in more
democratic societies. Prominent examples of this liberalism are his support for women’s suffrage, equal rights for immigrants and minorities, economic justice, and world
peace. He would be rightly categorized as a democratic socialist, and he rejected Communism and governments tending toward fascism or totalitarianism. Dewey’s
intellectual foundations lay in his seminal contributions to psychology, pedagogy, and pragmatism. Both functionalist and behaviorist psychology partly sprang from his work at
the University of Chicago during the 1890s, and this dynamic view of intelligence infused his original theories about childhood education and life-long learning. Since all
learning is basically experimental, Dewey partnered with Charles Peirce and William James to develop pragmatism’s view that the knowable is what is empirically confirmable
after putting thoughts into action. From epistemology to philosophy of mind, pragmatism abandons Platonic, Cartesian, and Kantian views that reality and knowledge are
statically structured by necessary and unchanging principles. For Dewey, only experience’s explorations of the world ultimately determine the meaning, value, and validity of
ideas and propositions, including those of mathematics, logic, science, and philosophy itself. His version of pragmatism, which he usually labeled as “instrumentalism” or
empirical naturalism,” has also been influential in the fields of aesthetics, ethics, social theory, philosophy of technology, and philosophy of religion. Dewey taught at Columbia
University from 1905 until he retired in 1929 and was a presence there as professor emeritus until 1939. He also traveled the world; major journeys include lecturing in Japan
and China from 1919 to 1921, a 1924 stay in Turkey as Ataturk’s educational consultant, and a tour of USSR schools in 1928. Dewey’s thought is respected in many
countries, and it has been productively compared and blended with aspects of Asian philosophy in particular.
Dewey’s Collected Works
Dewey 1967–1987 is the critical edition of Dewey’s writings, and most volumes remain in print. His correspondence is published in Dewey 2008 for online subscription access.
Dewey 1989 and Dewey 1998 are the best shorter collections of his selected writings.
Dewey, John. The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882–1953. 37 vols. Edited by Jo Ann Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967–1987.
The collected works are also published by InteLex Past Masters for online subscription access.
Dewey, John. The Philosophy of John Dewey. Edited by John J. McDermott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
An ample collection of writings selected from journal articles and book chapters.
Dewey, John. The Essential Dewey. 2 vols. Edited by Larry Hickman and Thomas Alexander. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
Volume 1 covers pragmatism, education, and democracy. Volume 2 covers ethics, logic, and psychology.
Dewey, John. The Correspondence of John Dewey 1871–2007. 4 vols. Edited by Larry Hickman. Charlottesville, VA: InteLex Past Masters, 2008.
Contains every discovered letter by Dewey and written to Dewey, along with thousands of letters exchanged between Dewey’s colleagues, associates, and family.
Dewey’s Major Books
Dewey’s major books are available in reprint editions. Dewey 1929a, Dewey 1929b, Dewey 1934a, Dewey 1938, and Dewey 1948 are his master works, explaining his
metaphysics, epistemology, logic, aesthetics, and assessments of philosophy’s history. His theories of psychology and intelligence are presented in Dewey 1930a and Dewey
1933. Dewey 1916, Dewey 1927, and Dewey 1930b are central books on education and democracy. Dewey and Tufts 1932 provides his views on morality, rights, and the just
society. Dewey 1934b presents his philosophy of religion.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916.
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Dewey’s theories of education, community, and democracy are on center stage in this work. It also encompasses all of the primary tenets to his philosophical system.
Dewey, John. The Public and Its Problems. New York: Holt, 1927.
Dewey elaborates his account of the origin and justification of the state, and the proper functioning of democratic government to be responsive to the problems of citizens. To
be read together with Dewey 1930b.
Dewey, John. Experience and Nature. 2d ed. New York: Norton, 1929a.
Although Dewey 1934a and Dewey 1929b are equally as central for Dewey’s metaphysics, this keystone work unifies experience with nature, reveals communication’s
centrality to cognition, resolves the body-mind problem, grounds the nature of meaning and value, and describes how intelligence can criticize and revise even the highest
values.
Dewey, John. The Quest for Certainty. New York: Minton, Balch, 1929b.
Those familiar with philosophy’s history are urged to start their exploration of Dewey with this book. Dewey 1948 is also advisable. Dewey’s pragmatist epistemology and
experimental logic is contrasted with rationalist, idealist, and empiricist competitors. Concluding chapters about society, art, and religion are highly significant as well.
Dewey, John. Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology. New York: Modern Library, 1930a.
This work elaborates his psychological functionalism and social behaviorism, which uses the concept of flexible habits to account for childhood development, learning, and
intellectual maturity. These capacities in turn explain means-end reasoning, pursuing goods, following morality, and achieving freedom in a liberal society. A good preparation
before reading Dewey and Tufts 1932.
Dewey, John. Individualism, Old and New. New York: Minton, Balch, 1930b.
Dewey’s analysis of the advantages and limitations to modern liberalism. Progressive liberalism, following his prescriptions for genuine community, will advance democracy.
Dewey, John, and James H. Tufts. Ethics. 2d ed. New York: Holt, 1932.
Dewey composed the middle section and the first two chapters of the third section, with cover his views on moral philosophy, rival ethical theories, and his approach to rights
and social justice.
Dewey, John. How We Think. Boston and New York, 1933.
Dewey’s theory of inquiry, social psychology, and communal view of intelligence is explained here, This book should be read in concert with Dewey 1930a.
Dewey, John. Art as Experience. New York: Minton, Balch, 1934a.
One of Dewey’s masterworks, together with Dewey 1929a and Dewey 1938. Dewey’s theory of aesthetic creativity is at the heart of his account of human cognition and all
higher reflective capacities.
Dewey, John. A Common Faith. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1934b.
Dewey incorporates views on religion from William James, George Santayana, and Josiah Royce, distinguishing religious experience from organized religions. He assembles
a pragmatist defense of a naturalistic God that grows along with human ethical ideals.
Dewey, John. Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Holt, 1938.
The biological bases to human activities and cognition are able to account for the inadequacies to traditional logic, and they point the way toward an adaptable and empirical
logic fit for experimental scientific inquiry.
Dewey, John. Reconstruction in Philosophy. Boston: Beacon Press, 1948.
Dewey critiques the history of philosophy and re-interprets modern science in order to lay the foundations of a pragmatic philosophy applicable to moral, social, and political
needs.
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General Overviews
Levine 2016 is the definitive guide to secondary literature. Dykhuizen 1973 and Rockefeller 1991 are comprehensive intellectual biographies, and Martin 2003 and Dalton
2002 are focused studies of Dewey’s philosophical development. Hildebrand 2008 supplies a briefer introduction to Dewey’s philosophy, while more detailed surveys are
offered by Campbell 1995, Fesmire 2015, Fesmire 2018, and Cochran 2010.
Campbell, James. Understanding John Dewey: Nature and Cooperative Intelligence. Chicago: Open Court, 1995.
One of the most incisive and reliable books on the topical breadth of Dewey’s thought. Campbell starts from Dewey’s biological and evolutionary understanding of human
nature and intellectual capabilities, which then explain his empirical metaphysics and theory of inquiry. The scientific method, the fact-value relationship, the ethical society,
and the democratic community dominate the remaining areas in Campbell’s survey.
Cochran, Molly, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Dewey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Fourteen contributors, all of them recognized experts in their respective fields, address selected major themes of Dewey’s philosophy. After a chapter on Dewey’s intellectual
development, chapters focus on epistemology, naturalism, logic, experimental empiricism, philosophy of mind, action theory, moral philosophy, social reform, religious
naturalism, aesthetics, education, democracy, and international relations.
Dalton, Thomas C. Becoming John Dewey: Dilemmas of a Philosopher and Naturalist. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.
Dewey’s close attention to scientific advances throughout his lifetime were integral to the growth and trajectory of his philosophical positions. Dalton documents the significant
theoretical discoveries, whether from the natural, social, or life sciences, which contributed to Dewey’s characteristic version of pragmatism.
Dykhuizen, George. The Life and Mind of John Dewey. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973.
This volume is still the most thorough chronology of Dewey’s intellectual achievements, public activities, and political crusades. Thanks to meticulous research into archival
records and correspondence, Dykhuizen chronicles Dewey’s journey toward becoming “America’s philosopher” during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
Fesmire, Steven. Dewey. London: Routledge, 2015.
Perhaps the best, and most readable, introduction to Dewey’s philosophy in print. Fesmire discusses Dewey’s contributions to every area of philosophy and numerous other
disciplines such as psychology, sociology, education, art, technology, science, and religion.
Fesmire, Steven, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Dewey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
These thirty-five chapters, written by the world’s preeminent scholars on Dewey and pragmatism, cover every aspect and area of Dewey’s intellectual development and
philosophical thought. Particular chapters also relate Dewey’s thought to other pragmatisms, feminism, multiculturalism, legal theory, public philosophy, religion, environmental
philosophy, Continental philosophy, and Confucianism.
Hildebrand, David. Dewey: A Beginner’s Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008.
Chapters provide readable overviews of Dewey on experience, inquiry, morality, politics, education, aesthetics, religion, and philosophy for life.
Levine, Barbara, ed. Works About John Dewey, 1886–2016. Carbondale, IL: Center for Dewey Studies, 2016.
The definitive and comprehensive bibliography of secondary literature about John Dewey.
Martin, Jay. The Education of John Dewey: A Biography. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
Delivers the most detailed account of Dewey’s intellectual debts to a host of influential thinkers among his teachers, colleagues, collaborators, overseas contacts, and family
members. Key figures and events include professional and political allies at the University of Chicago: Anzia Yezierska; F.M. Alexander; journeys to Turkey, China, USSR, and
Mexico; progressive educators; and his science-educated daughter, Jane Dewey.
Rockefeller, Steven C. John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
Rockefeller’s survey of Dewey’s entire philosophical career yields convincing evidence that his constructive engagement with religious experience and ideals propelled much
of his moral and social philosophy. No area of his thought was unaffected, including his naturalistic metaphysics, social psychology, educational theory, and political theory.
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Philosophical Studies
For close examinations of Dewey’s central philosophical theses, consult Alexander 1987, Boisvert 1998, Eldridge 1998, and Jackson 2002. Saito 2005 relates Dewey’s
thought to 19th-century trends in romanticism and idealism. Hickman 2007 situates Dewey in relation to 20th-century modernisms and postmodernisms. Additional collections
of essays deserve mention. Schilpp 1989 is the most comprehensive volume of critical commentaries on Dewey’s thought. Shook and Kurtz 2011 largely concerns Dewey’s
empiricist and naturalistic views. Fairfield 2010 relates Dewey’s pragmatism to themes in Continental philosophy. Rud, et al. 2010 gathers chapters about Dewey’s
educational, social, and political theories.
Alexander, Thomas M. John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience, and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.
For Alexander, Dewey’s implementation of insights from aesthetics is the key to grasping his philosophy’s elaboration of a naturalistic and empirical metaphysics.
Boisvert, Raymond D. John Dewey: Rethinking Our Time. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.
Boisvert’s thorough exegesis of Dewey’s entire philosophy is guided by a staunch commitment to the “empirical naturalism” defended in several of Dewey’s major works.
Along the way, chapters explain Dewey’s devotion to pluralism over monism, contextualism over reductionism, and pragmatism over rationalism. Chapters examine the
development of Dewey’s thought from its idealist and organicist phase, to its grounding in immediate experience during a middle phase, and on to its mature view of “art as
experience” and the implications for meaningful expression and social mind.
Eldridge, Michael. Transforming Experience: John Dewey’s Cultural Instrumentalism. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1998.
Eldridge situates Dewey’s cultural instrumentalism, the stance that intelligent inquiry is in some manner aroused by, and tested by, the need for social reconstruction. Ensuring
that intelligent deliberations are sufficiently democratic, in terms of participatory means as well as political ends, is the paramount strategy. Special attention is given to the role
of Dewey’s secular humanism for dealing with religion’s influence in culture.
Fairfield, Paul, ed. John Dewey and Continental Philosophy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2010.
Contributors select a Continental philosopher or school of thought in order to construct a dialogue with the thought of John Dewey, a conversation that could not take place
during his lifetime. The figures selected for this engagement are Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Foucault, Weber, Derrida, and Deleuze.
Hickman, Larry A. Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.
Already standing at the end of the road reached by postmodernism, Dewey’s philosophy is more relevant than ever to contemporary debates between analytic and
Continental philosophies, while avoiding the misguided tenets of both. Hickman favorably contrasts Dewey with phenomenology, French postmodernism, critical theory, Anglo-
American epistemology, and neopragmatism. Further chapters engage philosophy of technology and philosophical anthropology.
Jackson, Phillip W. John Dewey and the Philosopher’s Task. New York: Teachers College Press, 2002.
The philosopher’s task, according to Dewey and recounted by Jackson, is to place philosophical inquiry in the service of the real-world problems of people. Central theses of
Dewey’s philosophy receive a fresh interpretation as they are applied to various persistent social and political issues.
Rud, A. G., James Garrison, and Lynda Stone, eds. John Dewey at 150: Reflections for a New Century. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2010.
This collected volume of essays is oriented toward Dewey’s projects in philosophy of education, his vision for democratic community, and his contributions to a global
cosmopolitanism. Chapters also interweave Dewey’s aesthetics, ethical theory, and political views on secularism and religion.
Saito, Naoko. The Gleam of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005.
Dewey’s methods for advancing progressive education run counter to later neoliberal tenets on metrics and standardizations. Saito exposes how the Deweyan aims of
genuine education, oriented to the full development of moral persons, have far more in common with the aesthetic and ethical ends promoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Schilpp, P. A., ed. The Philosophy of John Dewey. 3d ed. Chicago: Open Court, 1989.
This volume in the Library of Living Philosophers series contains a large and comprehensive set of commentary and critical essays on every aspect of Dewey’s thought.
Dewey’s autobiography, his responses to commentators, and a bibliography of his writings adds to the high value of this essential book.
Shook, John R., and Paul Kurtz, eds. Dewey’s Enduring Impact: Essays on America’s Philosopher. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011.
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Twenty-three chapters cover most areas and aspects of Dewey’s philosophy. They provide close expositions and defenses of his positions on pragmatism, naturalism,
humanism, ethics, politics, religion, and democracy. Many chapters also indicate the contemporary relevance of Dewey’s thought for 21st-century intellectual and social
problems.
Philosophical Areas
Specialized studies of Dewey’s metaphysics, epistemology, and logic are available. Boisvert 1988 describes Dewey’s empirical metaphysics in terms of continuities between
his earlier idealistic period and later pragmatist period. Other books emphasizing these connections with respect to his views on meaning, knowledge and truth are Shook
2000 and Good 2006. Johnston 2014 examines Dewey’s early logical theory, while Burke 1994 and Burke, et al. 2002 recount his mature views on judgment formation and
logical inference. Dewey’s pragmatist theses on inquiry, truth, and realism are explained by Sleeper 2001 and Hildebrand 2003.
Boisvert, Raymond D. Dewey’s Metaphysics. New York: Fordham University Press, 1988.
Boisvert addresses long-standing critiques of Dewey as harboring too much idealism, and distortions of Dewey as conforming with neo-pragmatist relativism and anti-
essentialism. Dewey’s pragmatism does have a strongly realist and non-relativist structure, accounting not only for distinctive features to his metaphysics but also his
incorporation of science.
Burke, Thomas. Dewey’s New Logic: A Reply to Russell. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1994.
Misunderstandings of Dewey’s philosophy of logic and inquiry, promulgated by Bertrand Russell and repeated in analytic philosophy, received their correction and rebuttal.
More recent developments in logic are leaving behind the approach characterized by Russell, while approaching Deweyan stances, especially in relation to cognitive science.
Burke, Tom, D. Micah Hester, and Robert Talisse, eds. Dewey’s Logical Theory: New Studies and Interpretations. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2002.
Contributors address a variety of topics in Dewey’s theory of inquiry, logical inference and judgment, and epistemology. Many chapters contrast Dewey’s views with other
figures and movements in philosophy of logic, such as Russell, Carnap, and Quine. Several chapters apply his views to inquiry in social and ethical matters.
Good, James A. A Search for Unity in Diversity: The “Permanent Hegelian Deposit” in the Philosophy of John Dewey. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.
Dewey’s later pragmatism and naturalism retained idealist elements from his early Hegelian phase. They allow his philosophy to resolve the relationship between mind and
world and explain how intelligence is capable of reconstructing our social institutions and our engagements with nature.
Hildebrand, David. Beyond Realism and Antirealism: John Dewey and the Neopragmatists. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2003.
Targets the realism-antirealism conflict over truth and reality, as debated by Richard Rorty and Hilary Putnam. Dewey’s pragmatism rises above the narrow assumptions made
in those debates.
Johnston, James Scott. John Dewey’s Earlier Logical Theory. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014.
Dewey’s books from 1900 to 1916 are the focus, from Studies in Logical Theory (1903) to Essays in Experimental Logic (1916). The key features of Dewey’s theory of logical
inquiry are indebted to these earlier engagements with both idealism and realism.
Shook, John R. Dewey’s Empirical Theory of Knowledge and Reality. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000.
Addresses the development of Dewey’s metaphysics and epistemology from the 1880s to the 1920s. The continuities with idealism shaped his later pragmatism on the nature
of social mind, practical intelligence, and scientific inquiry. Dewey’s views of experience, body/mind, and nature stated in Experience and Nature are explicable only through
understanding this development.
Sleeper, Ralph W. The Necessity of Pragmatism: John Dewey’s Conception of Philosophy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.
Starting from Dewey’s empirical metaphysics, logical theory, and philosophy of language, Sleeper tracks the underlying unity of Dewey’s philosophy. Chapters also address
his philosophy of culture, his methods for pursuing social change, and his political philosophy.
Science, Technology, and the Environment
Brinkmann 2013 discusses the role of science in Dewey’s philosophy, while Hickman 1990 recounts the prominence of philosophy of technology in his thought. Manicas 2008
surveys Dewey’s naturalistic philosophy. Dewey’s relevance to evolutionary understandings of life, and ecological perspectives on life’s future, are recognized and elaborated
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by Popp 2007, McDonald 2003, and Browne 2007.
Brinkmann, Svend. John Dewey: Science for a Changing World. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2013.
Dewey’s non-reductive naturalism is a challenge to scientism and evolutionary psychology. Brinkmann surveys Dewey’s philosophical, psychology, cultural, and ethical views
that follow from this pragmatic naturalist position.
Browne, Neil W. The World in Which We Occur: John Dewey, Pragmatist Ecology, and American Ecological Writing in the Twentieth Century. Tuscaloosa:
University of Alabama Press, 2007.
Where culture and nature intertwine, a “pragmatist ecology” inspired by Dewey can join with approaches taken by other environmental writers, such as Muir, Carson, Haines,
and Lopez.
Hickman, Larry A. John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
In Hickman’s hands, Dewey’s pragmatism is revealed to be a superior philosophy of technology at its core. The nature of technology and ethics of technology are explicable
through Deweyan tenets. Comparisons with other 20th-century thinkers on technology are offered.
Manicas, Peter T. Rescuing Dewey: Essays in Pragmatic Naturalism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008.
Dewey’s philosophy of the social sciences and his logic of empirical inquiry make his naturalism more radical than even admirers can admit. The implications for political
theory are just as radical, and they share similarities with democratic forms of Marxism.
McDonald, Hugh P. John Dewey and Environmental Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003.
A pragmatist philosophy of the environment is a sounder basis for environmental ethics and animal protection. McDonald contrasts Dewey with Regan, Rolston, Callicott, and
other environmental philosophers.
Popp, Jerome A. Evolution’s First Philosopher: John Dewey and the Continuity of Nature. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.
Popp portrays Dewey as the first significant thinker to rebuild philosophy in accord with the intellectual revolution aroused by the theory of biological evolution by natural
selection.
Child Development and Pedagogy
Dewey’s theories of childhood development and pedagogical practices have been described by too many studies to adequately list. Four books yielding expert analyses and
defenses of Dewey are Cuffaro 1995, Tanner 1997, Fishman and McCarthy 1998, and Taylor, et al. 2008.
Cuffaro, Harriet K. John Dewey and the Early Childhood Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press, 1995.
Experiential learning, inspired by Dewey’s pedagogical theories, should retake a preeminent place in the design of classroom learning activities.
Fishman, Stephen M., and Lucille McCarthy. John Dewey and the Challenge of Classroom Practice. New York: Teachers College Press, 1998.
An in-depth exposition of Dewey’s pedagogical theories, as they are concretely applicable in today’s classrooms.
Tanner, Laurel N. Dewey’s Laboratory School: Lessons for Today. New York: Teachers College, 1997.
Dewey’s experimental school at the University of Chicago during the 1890s was the setting for the design and testing of teaching methodologies and classroom practices in
accord with pragmatism.
Taylor, Michael, Helmut Schreier, and Paulo Ghiraldelli Jr., eds. Pragmatism, Education, and Children: International Philosophical Perspectives. Amsterdam and
New York: Rodopi, 2008.
Contributors examine opportunities to apply the pragmatist view of education to concerns of pedagogy, schooling, and philosophy for children.
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Theory of Education
Johnston 2009 situates the key role of inquiry within education across the humanities and social sciences. Garrison 1997 expands upon Dewey’s educational views to sketch
a broader vista of lifelong learning for wisdom, while Garrison, et al. 2012 surveys the continuing impact of Dewey’s philosophy of education. Comparisons between Dewey on
education and recent educational theorizing in Europe are made in Fairfield 2009, Hickman and Neubert 2009, and Hickman and Spadafora 2009. Dewey’s most influential
book on the necessity of public education and citizen participation for democracy, Dewey 1916 (cited under Dewey’s Major Books), receives close examinations by Hansen
2006; Jenlink 2009; Garrison, et al. 2016; and Phillips 2016.
Fairfield, Paul. Education After Dewey. London and New York: Continuum, 2009.
Offers comparisons with major Continental thinkers, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Arendt, Gadamer, Ricouer, and Freiere.
Garrison, Jim. Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and Desire in the Art of Thinking. New York: Teachers College Press, 1997.
Garrison finds a theory of desire in Dewey’s theory of education where learning must concern the question of what is really valuable as well as what is probably true.
Garrison, Jim, Stefan Neubert, and Kersten Reich, eds. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education: An Introduction and Recontextualization for Our Times. New York:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Chapters place Dewey in dialogue with prominent Continental thinkers such as Levinas, Foucault, Bourdieu, Derrida, and Bauman on key topics in philosophy for democracy.
Garrison, Jim, Stefan Neubert, and Kerston Reich. Democracy and Education Reconsidered: Dewey After One Hundred Years. London and New York: Routledge,
2016.
This co-authored book reconstructs the main ideas of Dewey’s book for application to important challenges for education in contemporary times.
Hansen, David T., ed. John Dewey and Our Educational Prospect: A Critical Engagement with Dewey’s Democracy and Education. Albany: State University of New
York Press, 2006.
Essays discuss Dewey’s landmark work in the context of contemporary problems involving curricula for children, educational methods, education for social trends and needs,
and designing schools.
Hickman, Larry A., and Stefan Neubert, ed. John Dewey between Pragmatism and Constructivism. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.
The Cologne program of educational constructivism provides the setting for contributors exploring commonalities with Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism and educational
theory.
Hickman, Larry A., and Giuseppe Spadafora, eds. John Dewey’s Educational Philosophy in International Perspective. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University
Press, 2009.
Contributors provide a variety of international perspectives on the European reception of Dewey’s tenets during the course of the 20th century.
Jenlink, Patrick M., ed. Dewey’s Democracy and Education Revisited: Contemporary Discourses for Democratic Education and Leadership. Lanham, MD: Rowman
and Littlefield, 2009.
The social and educational preparation of citizens for political participation is the primary topic for this book’s chapters on democracy both in theory and practice today.
Johnston, James Scott. Deweyan Inquiry: From Education Theory to Practice. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.
An exposition of the main lines of Dewey’s book on logic illuminates how the Deweyan theory of inquiry is applicable in science, science education (both natural and social
sciences), art education, and physical education.
Phillips, D. C. A Companion to John Dewey’s Democracy and Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
A thorough exposition of Dewey 1916 book. In the course of clarifying its interlocking psychology and philosophical stances, Phillips provides many illustrations of
applications, in both education and society, still having high relevance today.
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Social Theory
Dewey’s understanding of the social nature of individuality, mentality, and values—which is crucial for grasping his overall social theory—has been less sufficiently appreciated
than his pedagogy or pragmatism. Correctives are supplied by Shook and Good 2010 and Shook 2014. A similarly motivated book, connecting Dewey with major American
socio-economic theorists, is Tilman 2004. The importance of respect for pluralism and cultural diversity in a flourishing society is the impetus behind Garrison 2008 and Green,
et al. 2012.
Garrison, Jim, ed. Reconstructing Democracy, Recontextualizing Dewey: Pragmatism and Interactive Constructivism in the Twenty-First Century. Albany: State
University of New York Press, 2008.
Chapters treat a large set of issues concerning diversity, inclusion, difference, and communication while drawing from the resources of Dewey’s social theory.
Green, Judith, Stefan Neubert, and Kersten Reich, eds. Pragmatism and Diversity: Dewey in the Context of Late Twentieth Century Debates. New York: Springer,
2012.
The contemporary experience of pluralism and diversity is the occasion for reflecting on Dewey’s contributions toward a cosmopolitanism adequate for the 21st century.
Shook, John R. Dewey’s Social Philosophy: Democracy as Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Dewey’s philosophy viewed the democratic life as an educational process guided by intelligence. The democratic life, guided by worthy ethical ideals and promoted by
democratic governing, tends toward the protection and guarantee of full and equal participation of all persons.
Shook, John R., and James A. Good. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Spirit, with the 1897 Lecture on Hegel. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010.
During a transitional period of Dewey’s thought, his lectures on Hegel at the University of Chicago reveal how Dewey’s views on the individual, social relations, and the
community retained a naturalistic version of the human spirit and its moral aspirations.
Tilman, Rick. Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey, C. Wright Mills and the Generic Ends of Life. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.
Veblen and Mills held views of economics and society that are recognizably pragmatist in method and conclusions, permitting a fruitful comparison with Dewey’s philosophy.
Ethics and Aesthetics
For Dewey, society cannot be understood in the absence of an accurate comprehension of value and morality; Gouinlock 1972 is the best study of the former, while Edel 2002
is the finest study of the latter. Welchman 1995, Fesmire 2003, Carden 2006, and Pappas 2008 are four more recent investigations in Dewey’s view of the role of morality in
society and his elaborations of an ethical theory. Dewey’s aesthetics are no less significant for his general views on the proper functioning of mind and society, as Jackson
1998 and Granger 2006 explain. The entwined roles of ethics and religion within a democratic social context are explored by Rogers 2009.
Carden, Stephen D. Virtue Ethics: Dewey and Macintyre. London and New York: Continuum, 2006.
Alastair MacIntyre prioritized the virtues in his virtue ethics to challenge Kantianism and utilitarianism, taken a position similar to Dewey’s restoration of the virtues to moral
philosophy.
Edel, Abraham. Ethical Theory and Social Change: The Evolution of John Dewey’s Ethics, 1908–1932. Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2002.
Edel compares and contrasts the key positions of Dewey’s ethical theory as they are presented in the 1908 and 1932 editions of his book Dewey and Tufts 1932 (cited under
Dewey’s Major Books), written with James Tufts.
Fesmire, Steven. John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
Moral deliberation relies on a situational dramatic rehearsal of possible deeds and their consequences, permitting an intelligent assessment of the practical value to chosen
means and ends.
Gouinlock, James. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value. New York: Humanities Press, 1972.
This critical study of Dewey’s theory of value and morality compares his views with other major ethical theories, including emotivism, utilitarianism, and prescriptivism.
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Granger, David A. John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the Art of Living: Revisioning Aesthetic Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Pirsig’s noted book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, can be illuminated through a Deweyan approach to aesthetic education in values.
Jackson, Philip W. John Dewey and the Lessons of Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.
The learning experience can be enriched through the application of lessons from Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience and creativity.
Pappas, Gregory Fernando. John Dewey’s Ethics: Democracy as Experience. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.
The democratic experience of pursuing the ethical life in social community is the key to understanding Dewey’s hopes for democracy.
Rogers, Melvin L. The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
Rogers situates Dewey’s theory of inquiry at the intersection of ethics, religion, and democracy, where Dewey expected the civic life for everyone to flourish despite moral
pluralism.
Welchman, Jennifer. Dewey’s Ethical Thought. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.
Welchman traces Dewey’s modification of his early idealistic ethics of self-realization toward his later pragmatist view of moral conduct and character which reconciled science
and morality.
Democracy
Many books cited in other sections concern democracy, directly or indirectly. This section gathers studies of Dewey’s political theorizing that defends democracy both as a
civic way of life and as an effective form of government. Johnston 2006 and Kadlec 2007 are helpful monographs describing the many connections among Dewey’s
educational and political stances. Westbrook 1991 and Ryan 1995 are two broad surveys of Dewey on American democracy. Incisive analyses and critiques of Dewey’s views
on citizen participation, public deliberation, and political liberalism are Fott 1998 and Caspary 2000. Dewey’s intersection with another pragmatist-minded public intellectual
who was Dewey’s near-contemporary, Reinhold Niebuhr, is the subject of Morris 2015. Another giant of American political theorizing, John Rawls, provides an interlocutor for
Dewey’s thought in Weber 2010. Dewey’s participation in an important episode of political activism is the backdrop for Lee 2015.
Caspary, William R. Dewey on Democracy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.
Conflict resolution as the goal of political deliberation is a wide-ranging theme in Dewey’s political philosophy, one that applies to contemporary social problems.
Fott, David. John Dewey: America’s Philosopher of Democracy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.
As a moral ideal, the concept of democracy is prior to a theory of government, so that an alternative to relativism and absolutism permits the reunification of ethics and politics.
Johnston, James Scott. Inquiry and Education: John Dewey and the Quest for Democracy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.
Four sections center on the roles of inquiry, growth, community, and democracy in Dewey’s philosophy of education.
Kadlec, Alison. Dewey’s Critical Pragmatism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.
Pragmatically adapting to social change, rather than deducing political principles, is the point of reflective inquiry.
Lee, Mordecai. The Philosopher-Lobbyist: John Dewey and the People’s Lobby, 1928–1940. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015.
This forerunner of a public interest lobbying organization was wielded by Dewey to advocate for a more socialist vision for America’s problems during the Great Depression
than Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Morris, Daniel A. Virtue and Irony in American Democracy: Revisiting Dewey and Niebuhr. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.
Dewey, a naturalistic humanist, and Niebuhr, a Christian realist, episodically debated the nature of civic virtues and social justice, without acknowledging how a deeper
commitment to tolerance is necessary as well.
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Ryan, Alan. John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.
Ryan’s narrative of Dewey’s development as a political thinker and activist between the two world wars highlights both the ambitious ideals of liberalism and the characteristic
weaknesses of progressivism.
Weber, Eric Thomas. Rawls, Dewey, and Constructivism. London: Continuum, 2010.
Rawls at best is an incomplete constructivist on the conception of justice due to lingering Kantianism, which is eliminable through a Deweyan critique from his fully
constructivism standpoint.
Westbrook, Robert B. John Dewey and American Democracy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.
Westbrook elaborates the trajectory of Dewey’s theories of society and politics from his early career during the 1890s and 90s through the course of the progressive
movement and two world wars.
International Reception
In the 21st century Dewey is being read in more countries around the world (and across more disciplinary fields) than during his own lifetime. Consult Bruno-Jofre and
Schriewer 2012 and Narayan 2016 for ample evidence of this global impact. This reception of Dewey’s thought, at a time when democratic ideals and cosmopolitan outlooks
are more needed than ever, is also documented by Tan and Whalen-Bridge 2008. Deledalle 1967 exemplifies how well European philosophers could comprehend Dewey’s
philosophy. Besides certain developments in later 20th-century European philosophy, the most fertile ground for the reception and incorporation of Dewey’s thought has been
China. Introductions of Dewey into China by way of his educational theory is the topic of Wang 2007. Confucianism, in both its ancient and modern manifestations in China,
apparently provides a workable bridge for the welcome reception of Dewey there, according to Ames and Hall 1998, Tan 2003, and Grange 2004.
Ames, Roger T., and David L. Hall. The Democracy of the Dead: Dewey, Confucius, and the Hope for Democracy in China. Chicago: Open Court, 1998.
Agreements between Dewey and Confucianism on cultivating virtue and public-minded responsibility provide a springboard for pondering how a kind of democracy can
flourish in China.
Bruno-Jofre, Rosa, and Jurgen Schriewer, eds. The Global Reception of John Dewey’s Thought. London: Routledge, 2012.
Interpretations of Dewey’s philosophy around the world are offered, that includes Spain, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.
Deledalle, Gerard. L’idee d’experience dans la philosophie de John Dewey. Paris: University Press of France, 1967.
Deledalle expounds on the psychological, epistemological, and metaphysical commitments of Dewey’s philosophy through an exploration of the all-important role that lived
experience plays in his thought.
Grange, Joseph. John Dewey, Confucius, and Global Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.
Grange advances possibilities for combining Deweyan and Confucian views on experience, education, and culture, with the aim of unifying Eastern and Western philosophies.
Narayan, John. John Dewey: The Global Public and Its Problems. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2016.
Dewey’s political theory should be applied transnationally and globally in order to address 21st-century issues of globalization and democracy around the world.
Tan, Sor-Hoon. Confucian Democracy: A Deweyan Reconstruction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003.
Synthesizing Confucianism and pragmatism paves the way to an alternative to Western liberalism, which could deliver greater equality and freedom.
Tan, Sor-Hoon, and John Whalen-Bridge, eds. Democracy as Culture: Deweyan Pragmatism in a Globalizing World. Albany: State University of New York Press,
2008.
Contributors question how Dewey’s democratic ideals and respect for cultural pluralism could serve the goal of enlarging the scope and effectiveness of global democracy.
Wang, Jessica Ching-Sze. John Dewey in China: To Teach and to Learn. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.
5/29/2019 John Dewey - Philosophy - Oxford Bibliographies
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Dewey’s travels in China during 1919–1921 allowed him to appreciate the vast role of culture for politics. These insights in turn deeply altered his own political philosophy and
his perspectives on the nature of democracy.
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Chicago: Open Court, 1998. Agreements between Dewey and Confucianism on cultivating virtue and public-minded responsibility provide a springboard for pondering how a kind of democracy can flourish in China
  • Roger T Ames
  • David L Hall
Ames, Roger T., and David L. Hall. The Democracy of the Dead: Dewey, Confucius, and the Hope for Democracy in China. Chicago: Open Court, 1998. Agreements between Dewey and Confucianism on cultivating virtue and public-minded responsibility provide a springboard for pondering how a kind of democracy can flourish in China.
London: Routledge, 2012. Interpretations of Dewey's philosophy around the world are offered, that includes Spain
  • Rosa Bruno-Jofre
  • Jurgen Schriewer
Bruno-Jofre, Rosa, and Jurgen Schriewer, eds. The Global Reception of John Dewey's Thought. London: Routledge, 2012. Interpretations of Dewey's philosophy around the world are offered, that includes Spain, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.