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Excerpts from the book
“Classical pragmatism is, I believe, not only America’s most important contribution to philosophy but also one of the most significant developments in the history of the subject"
"…pragmatism has never achieved its potential for reform."
"For James, nineteenth-century inquiries into the natural world, into human culture and its history, call for a project of reconciliation: How can people who live after Darwin, Maxwell, and Helmholtz find a way to satisfy their spiritual yearnings? How can a tough-minded appreciation of the findings of science make room for the ideals that – rightly – move the tender-minded? Dewey recognizes the need for some such project, but views it as only a part of the task of philosophy. Casting his net more broadly, he intends to organize the knowledge of his age so it can more directly benefit his contemporaries. Questions of value are central to his perspective on philosophy, and from them flow a host of inquiries into religion, social life, politics, education and art.
During the past decade, I have become increasingly moved by this reformist approach to philosophy, and, particularly, by Dewey’s broad elaboration of it. The essays collected here are intended to supply motivation for the “reconstruction in philosophy” Dewey envisaged. (…)
I am inclined to think that, were Descartes to be resurrected among us, he would be puzzled by the legacy of his questions in contemporary epistemology – and far more interested in the neglected issue of how to provide access to reliable information in a world awash in potential sources (the “Google/Wikipedia problem”)."
Personal Note: Navigating through information overload - How to obtain information from Google
Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.
The English term "public opinion" dates back to the seventeenth century work by John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which contains an early consideration of the importance of public opinion in the ordering of politics. The term was derived from the French word l’opinion, which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne.