From absolutes to aesthetics : John Dewey and the art of experience /
McClelland, Kenneth A.
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In this thesis I sought to capture something of the integrity of John Dewey's larger vision. While recognizing this to be a difficult challenge, I needed to clear some of the debris of an overly narrow reading of Dewey's works by students of education. The tendency of reducing Dewey's larger philosophical vision down to neat theoretical snap shots in order to prop up their particular social scientific research, was in my estimation slowly damaging the larger integrity of Dewey's vast body of work. It was, in short, killing off the desire to read big works, because doing so was not necessary to satisfying the specialized interests of social scientific research. In this thesis then I made a plea for returning the Humanities to the center of higher education. It is there that students learn how to read and to think—skills required to take on someone of Dewey's stature. I set out in this thesis to do just that. I took Dewey's notion of experience as the main thread connecting all of his philosophy, and focused on two large areas of inquiry, science and its relation to philosophy, and aesthetic experience. By exploring in depth Dewey's understanding of human experience as it pertains to day-to-day living, my call was for a heightened mode of artful conduct within our living contexts. By calling on the necessity of appreciating the more qualitative dimensions of lived experience, I was hoping that students engaged in the Social Sciences might begin to bolster their research interests with more breadth and depth of reading and critical insight. I expressed this as being important to the survival and intelligent flourishing of democratic conduct.