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Psycology » Persons » Thinkers » John Dewey (1859-1952)

American philosopher. Gave pragmatism typical American features, combining it with materialism and behaviorism. Deny the objectivity of truth, identified it with the utility. Developed the concept of instrumentalism, according to which concepts and theories - only the tools to adapt to the external environment. Currently Dewey philosophies are common in America.

Acted as a reformer in the field of pedagogy. For American philosophers, and, perhaps, and intellectuals in general, he was and remained the highest philosophical authority. If any American student, graduate student or teacher would be asked to name one philosopher with a capital letter, it is likely that four in five people would be called Dewey.

Future philosopher was born October 20, 1859 in Burlington, a small northern Vermont, the son of a tobacco manufacturer. After school, he began studying at the University of Vermont liberal arts program. With great passion studied philosophy under the guidance of Professor Tore, who taught a course in the philosophy of ethics. Still not sure of his future career, Dewey after graduation taught at 1879-1881 years in a private high school in Oil City (PA), whose director was his cousin. Working in school, John continued intensive study of philosophy.

In 1881 he directed his first article, "The metaphysical perception of materialism" in the "Journal of Philosophy", around which were grouped Philosophical Society of St. Louis. The article was graciously accepted, published, and its author recommended further philosophical investigations. This determined the final choice Dewey way of life - he decided to become a philosopher.

As noted by biographers Dewey, it was a courageous act, because in those days (after the Civil War) were engaged in philosophy and read the appropriate courses at universities mostly priests who have official religious doctrine intricately linked with Kantianism and other European schools. Dewey had no intention of becoming a priest. He wanted to pursue secular philosophy and enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, where he was fortunate to meet and work with brilliant scientific "trio" - Charles Peirce, gave a course of logic, Stanley Hall, a specialist in the field of experimental psychology, and George Morris, who taught the history of philosophy. All three had a great influence on the philosophical, psychological and pedagogical views of young graduate student, especially Maurice, which opened before the young scientist depth of German philosophy, particularly Hegel and Kant. In 1884 Dewey defended his thesis on "The Psychology of Kant", and on the recommendation of Maurice began teaching at the University of Michigan, where 10 years (1884-1894) led teaching and research activities.

This period was marked by gradual Dewey from Hegelian idealism, although Hegelian left its mark on his thinking and working. Especially significant was for Dewey Hegelian dialectic, that helped him overcome the eternal dualism concept of the individual and the community, the body and mind, the ideal and the real, and to consider them in a dialectical unity. In Michigan during Dewey was under the strong influence of experimental psychology and, in particular, the work of William James' Principles of Psychology ", which is a systematic exposition of the behaviorist interpretation of human behavior and perception. (Behaviorism only takes into account the facts of behavior, which can be accurately set and described without considering it necessary to "understand" them hiding internal mental processes.)

The outline of his autobiography Dewey wrote that "scientific approach James increasingly pervaded my ideas and acted as an enzyme converting my old ideas." However, during this period became interested Dewey social problems of society that did not die away almost all his life and which did not allow him to remain only in the framework of abstract philosophical constructs. This contributed to profound changes in American society, associated with rapid industrialization of the country, the influx of immigrants, the destruction of traditional attitudes and values ​​characteristic of the rural community.

Significant role in the heightened attention to social issues, born new conditions of life, played a familiarity with Alice Chipman - a young woman with a strong independent position and social activity. In 1886 she became the wife of Dewey. Great influence on Dewey had social activist and educator Jane Addams. She founded the first unusual in Chicago institution - Settlement, has has become a Mecca for all those interested in reforming society by reorganizing education.

There were clubs, clubs for mutual learning and research groups to study local issues and develop programs of social reform.

Dewey actively participated in the Settlement, has played there with lectures, long remained and talked with students, attended classes and in 1897 became a member of the board.

University of Michigan Dewey reads ethics course and published his first book: "The Ethics of democracy" (1888), "Essays Critical Theory of Ethics" (1891), "The study of ethics: the program" (1894). Subsequently, all these works are included in the great work "Ethics" (1908).

Dewey as a philosopher name became known in academic circles, and in 1894 president of the University of Chicago, William Harper invited the young professor to head the Department of Philosophy (it includes and pedagogy). Later, it was divided into two separate departments, and Dewey led both.

University of Chicago was a new institution (opened in 1892) with an energetic president, young professors separating predominantly liberal views. Dewey actively cooperates with a number of prominent scientists of the University - sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists.

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