Philosophy of William James and John Dewey

Philosophy of William James and John Dewey
Ajusshi
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Posted Sep 24, 2011 - 3:15 AM:
Subject: Philosophy of William James and John Dewey
I'm reading "Body Consciousness" by Robert Shusterman and having a difficult time identifying the philosophies of these two pragmatists.

I'm trying to categorize the philosophers' Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion, and Aesthetics or refutation thereof. I'd appreciate some helpful methods on how I should go about reading a philosophical text to find clues to such identification. Or maybe some hints on what kinds of "questions" I should ask myself when looking for such things. (i.e For Metaphysics: "what stuff is the world made of?" For ethics: "what constitutes right and wrong?")

So far everything seems really dense and convoluted.

Much appreciated,
Ajusshi
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Posted Sep 24, 2011 - 3:30 AM:
Subject: What I have dissected so far!!!
William James
Metaphysics:
Conscious stream of thought is a major factor in James’ metaphysics. He argues that we never experience the same thing twice, that there are always different factors whether it be the object, location, time or frame of reference, our consciousness is always undergoing change.

Epistemology:
Our thoughts and behavior are guided by habits. We form habits from repetitive action and thinking that are ingrained in our body’s “nerves” (according to James) that allow us to automate certain tasks, learn new things more rapidly and to divert our attention to more pressing matters that require our focus.

Ethics:
As long as an individual has a good reason to support his cause, then it is deemed ethical.

Logic:
We learn from our sense experience with the world. The best way to know something is to have it proven in the empirical realm.

Philosophy of Religion:
Like his epistemology, James argues that things are useful only if they provide relative worth to the person who interprets them. Religion should be experienced first-hand as the practitioner draws truth from primary practice of faith rather than acquiring guidance through passive reception.

Aesthetics:
Could not find anything so far.

*Notes:
The embodied mind. Nothing ever happens mentally that isn’t accompanied by a bodily action.




John Dewey
Metaphysics:
The mind-body experiences the world and interacts with it simultaneously. There is no cause-effect relationship between them; they merely experience the world through two windows.

Epistemology:
Knowledge is gained through the interaction between organism and environment. It is an active process that has to do with the sense perception of the world and our cognitive response to it. We learn from experiencing the world and forming our own hypotheses about it.

Ethics:
An individual seeks to attain satisfactory results and as a result makes decisions based on what will help that individual attain those goals within a social sphere. It is only within the community that ethics can truly be applied. Because the individual is a social creature, it depends on the acceptance and guidance of other individuals who also seek validation.

Logic:
Could not find anything.

Philosophy of Religion:
Could not find anything, but Dewey probably accepts religion insofar as it helps the individual reach goals and adapt good habits.

Aesthetics:
Beauty is attained through the experience that one has with the immediate moment. A good painting is recognized through its ability to evoke emotion and immediate satisfaction within the observer. Similarly it is possible for individuals to imagine beautiful moments whether creating them from nothing or referring to memorable experiences.
ciceronianus
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Posted Sep 24, 2011 - 5:41 AM:

Categorization is difficult with the pragmatists, particularly Dewey, as categorization--the tendency to impose fixed boundaries--is foreign to pragmatism as are the dualisms we like to apply.

Dewey's view of logic is quite interesting and unusual, and as such always bewildered those like Bertie Russell who appeared to believe philosophy was a kind of mathematics. Logic to Dewey, like much else, was instrumental, our way at addressing and resolving problems--a theory of inquiry, to borrow from the title of his primary work on the subject.
yasseford
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Posted Sep 26, 2011 - 10:00 AM:

I have nothing academic to contribute. I'd just like to say, Dewey makes my heart warm.
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