The Pathos of Politics (61) John Dewey

John Dewey

A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. ~ John Dewey

American philosopher, psychologist, Georgist, and social reformer John Dewey (1869–1948) is best known for his views on education.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

Dewey took a holistic view from a process-oriented perspective. He was one of the founders of functional psychology, which considers behavior and mentation in terms of active adaptation to the environment.

Man is not logical, and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis. ~ John Dewey

Dewey viewed democracy as an ethical ideal, not just a political mechanism. Despite comprehending how emotively driven people are, Dewey favored direct democracy.

The “State” was substituted for humanity; cosmopolitan gave way to nationalism. To form the citizen, not the “man,” became the aim of education. ~ John Dewey

Dewey was aware of how concentrated economic power “has consistently and persistently denied effective freedom to the economically underpowered and underprivileged.” He blamed the government for perpetual impoverishment of the “underprivileged.” Dewey proposed steep taxation of the wealthy in order to equalize opportunities for all.

Economic determinism is now a fact, not a theory. ~ John Dewey

Dewey was criticized for not coming up with strategies to achieve his avowed goal of a well-educated populace. Dewey was stymied by his understanding of the practical obstacles to reform presented by entrenched power, and the intricacy of the problems facing modern societies.

Democracy has many meanings, but if it has a moral meaning, it is found in resolving that the supreme test of all political institutions and industrial arrangements shall be the contribution they make to the all-around growth of every member of society. ~ John Dewey

Dewey was caught in a self-indulged trap of believing in democracy while realizing that it was not possible to solve societal problems through that polity, as voters were insufficiently enlightened to dispel plutocracy.

As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance. ~ John Dewey