Do you know Dewey?

coberst

Well-Known Member
Messages
427
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Do you know Dewey?

I am a retired engineer with some formal education in philosophy that I gained over a period of time while engaged in my engineering career. I have, over the last thirty years, been actively engaged in reading a great deal of history, biography, philosophy and science. All of this activity I would describe as disinterested learning. To me this means learning only for the sake of knowing and understanding. I find value in knowing and understanding as an end in-itself.

One thing that has struck me along the way is that contemporary philosophizing has become irrelevant to the problems of society. I also think that society has suffered enormously as a result of this failure. This is my opinion and from what I read it is an opinion shared by many.

Perhaps one result of this failure of contemporary philosophizing has had an advantageous result. The result I speak of is a rebirth of interest in the works of John Dewey. I have discovered Dewey in the last decade and have become slightly familiar with his work. His work is prodigious and I have gained most of my understanding from secondary sources.


Ernest Becker makes the point that the humanization process is one wherein the individual exchanges the natural organismic propensity for a mysterious symbolic dictation. The child in its very essential formative age is faced with denying that which ‘comes naturally’ for what are symbolic dictates that are far beyond its ability for comprehension. The child’s formation of character is dictated by its need to be somebody in the symbolic world.

John Dewey learned long ago that “the child continually loses battles he does not understand…we earn our early self-esteem not actively but in large part passively, by having our action blocked and re-oriented to the parents pleasure.”

In the very essential formative years the child develops character traits that in many cases remain with that individual for the rest of their life.

What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.

I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits. “Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction.” “The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought.” “Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness.” “Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will.”

Britannica specifies that attitude is “a predisposition to classify objects and events and to react to them with some degree of evaluative consistency.”

If I consult my inner self I cannot focus upon an attitude but can infer such an attitude based on behavior. If I wish to become conscious of my intuition I can through observation of behavior describe the attitude, which, in turn, allows me to ascertain the nature of my intuition.

When a mother tells her son “you must change your attitude”. The son cannot change the attitude directly but the son must change his intuition from which the inferred attitude emanates. This does become a bit convoluted but in essence when we wish to change an attitude we are saying that our intuition must be modified. We can modify intuition only through habit directed by our will.

“Were it not for the continued operation of all habits in every act, no such thing as character would exist. There would be simply a bundle, an untied bundle at that, of isolated acts. Character is the interpenetrating of habits. If each habit in an insulated compartment and operated without affecting or being affected by others, character would not exist. That is conduct would lack unity being only juxtaposition of disconnected reactions to separated situations. But since environments overlap, since situations are continuous and those remote from one another contain like elements, a continuous modification of habits by one another is constantly going on.”

I would like to recommend the thoughts of John Dewey to all those who are disheartened by the direction of education, politics and the general drift of our society wherein citizens have allowed themselves to become propagandized into recognizing production and consumption as its most important values.

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey
 
i like reading ur posts... but can I have bigger type? it would make it easier to read...


I do not like small type either, I shall try to use larger type from now on. When I find type too small, my screen has in the bottom right a 100% symbol that allows me to easily manipulate the size of type.
 
I think you should have been an academic, what you are describing is the scholarly approach. Sometimes even engineers are interested in scholarship :) (I know because I am an engineer with similar interests, but I have no formal education in philosophy).

I will see what I can find on Dewey on-line.

I like reading your posts as well, you are obviously writing about your passion.

And you were probably writing in small font because it increased your efficiency by getting your ideas into a smaller surface area :D.

By the way, everyone knows Einstein for his physics achievements, but I am sure that you are aware that he also had some great ideas about engineering and philosophy as well. Some of these are described in the recent Issacson Einstein biog.
 
Avi


I am a retired engineer with a good bit of formal education and twenty five years of self-learning. I began the self-learning experience while in my mid-forties. I had no goal in mind; I was just following my intellectual curiosity in whatever direction it led me. This hobby, self-learning, has become very important to me. I have bounced around from one hobby to another but have always been enticed back by the excitement I have discovered in this learning process. Carl Sagan is quoted as having written; “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

I label myself as a September Scholar because I began the process at mid-life and because my quest is disinterested knowledge.

Disinterested knowledge is an intrinsic value. Disinterested knowledge is not a means but an end. It is knowledge I seek because I desire to know it. I mean the term ‘disinterested knowledge’ as similar to ‘pure research’, as compared to ‘applied research’. Pure research seeks to know truth unconnected to any specific application.

I think of the self-learner of disinterested knowledge as driven by curiosity and imagination to understand. The September Scholar seeks to ‘see’ and then to ‘grasp’ through intellection directed at understanding the self as well as the world. The knowledge and understanding that is sought by the September Scholar are determined only by personal motivations. It is noteworthy that disinterested knowledge is knowledge I am driven to acquire because it is of dominating interest to me. Because I have such an interest in this disinterested knowledge my adrenaline level rises in anticipation of my voyage of discovery.

We often use the metaphors of ‘seeing’ for knowing and ‘grasping’ for understanding. I think these metaphors significantly illuminate the difference between these two forms of intellection. We see much but grasp little. It takes great force to impel us to go beyond seeing to the point of grasping. The force driving us is the strong personal involvement we have to the question that guides our quest. I think it is this inclusion of self-fulfillment, as associated with the question, that makes self-learning so important.

The self-learner of disinterested knowledge is engaged in a single-minded search for understanding. The goal, grasping the ‘truth’, is generally of insignificant consequence in comparison to the single-minded search. Others must judge the value of the ‘truth’ discovered by the autodidactic. I suggest that truth, should it be of any universal value, will evolve in a biological fashion when a significant number of pursuers of disinterested knowledge engage in dialogue.

In the United States our culture compels us to have a purpose. Our culture defines that purpose to be ‘maximize production and consumption’. As a result all good children feel compelled to become a successful producer and consumer. All good children both consciously and unconsciously organize their life for this journey.

At mid-life many citizens begin to analyze their life and often discover a need to reconstitute their purpose. Some of the advantageous of this self-learning experience is that it is virtually free, undeterred by age, not a zero sum game, surprising, exciting and makes each discovery a new eureka moment. The self-learning experience I am suggesting is similar to any other hobby one might undertake; interest will ebb and flow. In my case this was a hobby that I continually came back to after other hobbies lost appeal.

I suggest for your consideration that if we “Get a life—Get an intellectual life” we very well might gain substantially in self-worth and, perhaps, community-worth.

As a popular saying goes ‘there is a season for all things’. We might consider that spring and summer are times for gathering knowledge, maximizing production and consumption, and increasing net-worth; while fall and winter are seasons for gathering understanding, creating wisdom and increasing self-worth.

I have been trying to encourage adults, who in general consider education as a matter only for young people, to give this idea of self-learning a try. It seems to be human nature to do a turtle (close the mind) when encountering a new and unorthodox idea. Generally we seem to need for an idea to face us many times before we can consider it seriously. A common method for brushing aside this idea is to think ‘I’ve been there and done that’, i.e. ‘I have read and been a self-learner all my life’.

I am not suggesting a stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon. I am suggesting a ‘Lewis and Clark Expedition’. I am suggesting the intellectual equivalent of crossing the Mississippi and heading West across unexplored intellectual territory with the intellectual equivalent of the Pacific Ocean as a destination.
 
Coberst, thank you very some very nice thoughts. I also returned to my studies later in life, and for me it was the best decision that I could have made. I think it is wonderful for you to encourage younger people to do the same. And in this time of a difficult economy, what better time to improve one's skills and perhaps embark on a new direction.

I look forward to reading more about your philosophical views. :)

Incidentally, whatever your age, you have good eyes to read that small print :D.
 
Some of these are described in the recent Issacson Einstein biog.

I presume you mean Walter Issacson, the guy who tries to make a career out of distorting Einstein's beliefs? I have seen him. He is an idiot. I watched a lecture he gave once. Not only was he lying he knew he was lying.
 
Coberst, thank you very some very nice thoughts. I also returned to my studies later in life, and for me it was the best decision that I could have made. I think it is wonderful for you to encourage younger people to do the same. And in this time of a difficult economy, what better time to improve one's skills and perhaps embark on a new direction.

I look forward to reading more about your philosophical views. :)

Incidentally, whatever your age, you have good eyes to read that small print :D.

I hate small print but I have not figured out how on this forum to make it bigger. I make my font very large but this forum just changes it back to the small print. I post on many forums and a few are like this one where they seem to make it very small. I find it to be puzzlement.

When I view my post it looks to be normal. I do not comprehend these matters.
 
I presume you mean Walter Issacson, the guy who tries to make a career out of distorting Einstein's beliefs? I have seen him. He is an idiot. I watched a lecture he gave once. Not only was he lying he knew he was lying.

Ha,ha, Isaacson an idiot, hardly. Anyway, I would like to hear the story about his lying.

His 2007 biog. of Einstein is well written and has a lot of good physics in it. I have read other Einstein biogs. and this was the best.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon, and after you read it you can let us know what you think.
 
Ha,ha, Isaacson an idiot, hardly. Anyway, I would like to hear the story about his lying.

His 2007 biog. of Einstein is well written and has a lot of good physics in it. I have read other Einstein biogs. and this was the best.

You can pick up a copy at Amazon, and after you read it you can let us know what you think.
I do not give a damn about the physics in it, what I find nauseating his attempt to label Einstein and even Spinoza as good Jewish 'believers' when they plainly were not. Almost catholic in his distortion of fact and effort to claim the dead.
 
I do not give a damn about the physics in it,

What ??? This book is about the greatest physicist in history.


what I find nauseating his attempt to label Einstein and even Spinoza as good Jewish 'believers' when they plainly were not. Almost catholic in his distortion of fact and effort to claim the dead.

Here is a wonderful quote from Chapter 16, page 388:

Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiousity of someone more naive (ref. 1).

This is the clearest insight that Issacson gives about Einstein's conception of G-d. It is a direct quote and correctly cited. It is presented in a proper scholarly manner.

By the way, Tao, did you read the book or just see Isaacson give a talk ? So far your criticism is too general and incorrect as well. I am glad to debate further if you would like to....I did like the book :) .

Ref 1: Einstein to Phyllis Wright, Jan. 24, 1936, AEA 52-337
 
What ??? This book is about the greatest physicist in history.
All the more reason it needs to be honest.


Here is a wonderful quote from Chapter 16, page 388:
Which was a shortened and simplified answer to a 12 year old girl in which he actually says nothing but scientists love science. He made no claim of belief. He actually dodged the girls question....as usual.Though you may well be right it maybe be Issacsons best shot given the rest of the crap I have seen him talk. I will not be reading his book. After watching his reading from it, watching his sweat, nervous ticks and innumerable 'liars' body language at critical points in his justification why would I be inspired to give him my money?
 
All the more reason it needs to be honest.


Which was a shortened and simplified answer to a 12 year old girl in which he actually says nothing but scientists love science. He made no claim of belief. He actually dodged the girls question....as usual.Though you may well be right it maybe be Issacsons best shot given the rest of the crap I have seen him talk. I will not be reading his book. After watching his reading from it, watching his sweat, nervous ticks and innumerable 'liars' body language at critical points in his justification why would I be inspired to give him my money?

You might have just woken up raring for an argument, but it is past my bedtime. I say, lets drink this and have some sardines and parmasean cheese, we can continue the debate tomorrow :D:

 
Back
Top