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Experience and Nature

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Mr. Dewey believes that the method of empirical naturalism presented in this volume provides the way, and the only way by which one can freely accept the standpoint and conclusions of modern science. Contents: experience and philosophic method; existence as precarious and as stable; nature, ends and histories; nature, means and knowledge; nature, communication and as meani Mr. Dewey believes that the method of empirical naturalism presented in this volume provides the way, and the only way by which one can freely accept the standpoint and conclusions of modern science. Contents: experience and philosophic method; existence as precarious and as stable; nature, ends and histories; nature, means and knowledge; nature, communication and as meaning; nature, mind, and the subject; nature, life and body-mind; existence, ideas and consciousness; experience, nature and art; existence value and criticism.


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Mr. Dewey believes that the method of empirical naturalism presented in this volume provides the way, and the only way by which one can freely accept the standpoint and conclusions of modern science. Contents: experience and philosophic method; existence as precarious and as stable; nature, ends and histories; nature, means and knowledge; nature, communication and as meani Mr. Dewey believes that the method of empirical naturalism presented in this volume provides the way, and the only way by which one can freely accept the standpoint and conclusions of modern science. Contents: experience and philosophic method; existence as precarious and as stable; nature, ends and histories; nature, means and knowledge; nature, communication and as meaning; nature, mind, and the subject; nature, life and body-mind; existence, ideas and consciousness; experience, nature and art; existence value and criticism.

30 review for Experience and Nature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    Not many books deserve the hype heaped upon them. This one does. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Supreme Court justice, said of this book that it's just what one would read if God Himself had tried to say how the world really is, but was incapable of expressing Himself clearly. I agree; the metaphysical vision of the continuity between "nature" and "mind" is correct, but Dewey is an awful writer. Not many books deserve the hype heaped upon them. This one does. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Supreme Court justice, said of this book that it's just what one would read if God Himself had tried to say how the world really is, but was incapable of expressing Himself clearly. I agree; the metaphysical vision of the continuity between "nature" and "mind" is correct, but Dewey is an awful writer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Miles

    What can I say? I think the world needs another John Dewey. Or three. He'd save us all with brilliant, clear philosophical prose just mysterious enough to keep us wondering and just hopeful enough to keep us from despair. His appreciation for the complexity of nature and human experience is almost as astounding as his ability to articulate it. There are parts of this book that are outdated, but then it's almost a century old. He does a great job of predicting some of the problems faced by modern What can I say? I think the world needs another John Dewey. Or three. He'd save us all with brilliant, clear philosophical prose just mysterious enough to keep us wondering and just hopeful enough to keep us from despair. His appreciation for the complexity of nature and human experience is almost as astounding as his ability to articulate it. There are parts of this book that are outdated, but then it's almost a century old. He does a great job of predicting some of the problems faced by modernity, especially the problems posed by the advent of the scientific method and the resistance it faces from dogmatic forms of metaphysics. He walks the tightrope of advocating for a resolutely scientific worldview while still making a strong argument for the validity of subjective experience, ultimately arguing that a harmony between the external world and the internal life of mind is the best philosophical approach for solving practical problems. He suggests that philosophy and science are both forms of art that, when accomplished properly, arrange elements of experience in a way that leads to knowledge. There's a lot more, but I could never say it all here. I'm glad I read this text and I'm sure I'll come back to it for years to come. Just for future reference, I found the second half of the book (chapters 5-10) to be generally more interesting than the first half.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bridgett

    Fascinating, but difficult. This is Dewey working out his metaphysics; not for the faint-hearted, and might be difficult for someone without some grounding in the earlier, traditional philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel. That said, Dewey's point is clear: your worldview and approach to life, indeed, the ability to solve real world problems, will always be partial and distorted if you insist on seeing nature and experience as existing in separate realms rather than as Fascinating, but difficult. This is Dewey working out his metaphysics; not for the faint-hearted, and might be difficult for someone without some grounding in the earlier, traditional philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel. That said, Dewey's point is clear: your worldview and approach to life, indeed, the ability to solve real world problems, will always be partial and distorted if you insist on seeing nature and experience as existing in separate realms rather than as part of the same world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arda

    Notes from midterm: The words we use, Dewey argues, would not be the words that we associate them with if it were not for our human associations. Sharing and interaction are an integral part of communication, and in fact, the sharing may well be what makes communication. In actuality, a word, in its abstract mechanic form, does not mean anything unless the word undergoes a transformation that, by way of cooperation, turns it into an autonomous object with meaning. While the object may seem to hav Notes from midterm: The words we use, Dewey argues, would not be the words that we associate them with if it were not for our human associations. Sharing and interaction are an integral part of communication, and in fact, the sharing may well be what makes communication. In actuality, a word, in its abstract mechanic form, does not mean anything unless the word undergoes a transformation that, by way of cooperation, turns it into an autonomous object with meaning. While the object may seem to have independent meaning, it is the act of communication – the human association– that turns events into objects of significance and asserts them as meaningful. Although events may seem to be charged by the individual, they are neither exclusive nor individual in their nature, for before words become meanings, they would have had representations that embody common, inclusive partnerships and associations, and they have consequences. Dewey demonstrates that events, by means of social cooperation and repetition, start to possess features that would encompass independent meanings and gain significance. In the process of communication, Dewey observes, words turn into movable objects that we associate with. The idea is not that these objects are moving, but that their movability in and of itself is at the core of their meaning: the meaning is in the carried meaning, and the repetition of its transformative substance is what forms its nature and essence. Language, then, is not made up of still, blank expressions, but its nature lies in those “self-moving” actions that have undergone transformation through institutional patterns and social coordination. There is a certain amount of fiction involved in the construction of meaning: Dewey indicates that words, by themselves, in their mechanic forms, do not have much meaning at all. In order to escape the isolated abstraction of words, people cooperate in a shared experience of society and accept to relate to the movable element of language that would bring forth distinct and identifiable meaning. Once the words get transformed into objects that carry meaning, and once those words are put together through social construction, then communication is being created. Rather than getting stuck in the theoretical abstract of meaninglessness, Dewey suggests to enjoy the transformative creation of meaning that comes out of shared experience.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    After reading this, it's obvious to me that the current neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio and William Connelly have built upon the pragmatic tradition of Dewey in decrying the separation of emotions and felt experience from the cognitive decision making process. Attachment theory owes a lot to Pragmatism as well. To understand the progression and evolution of modern thinking, this book should be mandatory reading. After reading this, it's obvious to me that the current neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio and William Connelly have built upon the pragmatic tradition of Dewey in decrying the separation of emotions and felt experience from the cognitive decision making process. Attachment theory owes a lot to Pragmatism as well. To understand the progression and evolution of modern thinking, this book should be mandatory reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vladimir

    If you can stay awake in spite of Dewey's rather dull writing style, you may actually find this to be a book full of remarkable and thought provoking ideas. Highly recommended for anyone who needs a course in pragmatism. In many ways, his view of experience as an iterative process and of knowledge as grounded in the body(embodied) is something that neuroscience is just starting to discover with far less intellectual elegance. Also, this is a must read for anyone interested in constructivist psyc If you can stay awake in spite of Dewey's rather dull writing style, you may actually find this to be a book full of remarkable and thought provoking ideas. Highly recommended for anyone who needs a course in pragmatism. In many ways, his view of experience as an iterative process and of knowledge as grounded in the body(embodied) is something that neuroscience is just starting to discover with far less intellectual elegance. Also, this is a must read for anyone interested in constructivist psychology, particularly those of us infatuated with George Kelly. You will see clearly that many of his ideas come from Dewey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Gomez diaz-ureña

    Dewey's humanistic naturalism at its best. His bio-anthropological method and his Jamesian double-barreled conception of experience are to me very relevant perhaps more today than in his own day. Though, I certainly agree his prose is not extremely felicitous, this book is living evidence that 'technical' philosophy and humanistic aims are more than compatible, but, in fact, they must work together for the former not to fall into pedantic isolationism and general irrelevance and for the latter t Dewey's humanistic naturalism at its best. His bio-anthropological method and his Jamesian double-barreled conception of experience are to me very relevant perhaps more today than in his own day. Though, I certainly agree his prose is not extremely felicitous, this book is living evidence that 'technical' philosophy and humanistic aims are more than compatible, but, in fact, they must work together for the former not to fall into pedantic isolationism and general irrelevance and for the latter to have the guidance of scientific research and general intelligence. In short: viva Dewey!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I've read this book several times, and it is worth re-reading. This is one of Dewey's finest books. At places, it is difficult, but it is always worth trying to make it through. The only work that might be superior is Art as Experience. I've read this book several times, and it is worth re-reading. This is one of Dewey's finest books. At places, it is difficult, but it is always worth trying to make it through. The only work that might be superior is Art as Experience.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Lukach

    A fascinating look at the importance of experience in our lives. With particular emphasis on art, religion, democracy, and aesthetics, this book is surely to have an impact on the way you view the world.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Nothing is more stirring than pragmatism!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Helen Perks

    heavy going for me!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Xyst

    Rightfully included in the pantheon of extraordinary texts alongside Being and Time and Phenomenology of Spirit. The cornerstone of American philosophy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christian Schwoerke

    I was very ambitious back in the summer of 1974, when I transferred colleges to begin my junior year as a philosophy major. I was in the bookstore of Trinity University (San Antonio, TX), and I was drooling at the philosophy texts. I had no clear vision of what I wanted, other than that I liked the ponderous jargon—rationalism, empiricism, idealism, pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenology, ontology, epistemology, deontology, teleology, noetic—and I was already beginning to collect all the phil I was very ambitious back in the summer of 1974, when I transferred colleges to begin my junior year as a philosophy major. I was in the bookstore of Trinity University (San Antonio, TX), and I was drooling at the philosophy texts. I had no clear vision of what I wanted, other than that I liked the ponderous jargon—rationalism, empiricism, idealism, pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenology, ontology, epistemology, deontology, teleology, noetic—and I was already beginning to collect all the philosopher trading cards—Heraclitus, Plato, Socrates, Duns Scotus, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bentham, James, Ayer, Wittgenstein—though I had not yet found the elusive Husserl or Bergson. Dewey was new to me, so I was attracted to his Experience and Nature as a new acquisition. Sad to say, however, that in the next six months, I went very astray (was it the misty imprecision of the metaphysics of Heidegger?), felt trapped in a welter of words, then dropped out, and enlisted in the USN to make contact again with solid matter (though my dog tags averred I was a Buddhist). Somehow, Dewey’s book, cracked only once, survived the moves and multiple packings and unpackings over the next 45 years. So now I’ve read it. Dewey wins no awards for clarity. The usual signposts you expect in a work like this is to have some précis statement, then each step of the way given a topic statement, formulation, examples, and summation before moving onto the next step/topic. Dewey demanded a good deal more attention to his argument than that, and I was often adrift. Even the two primary terms were not given adequate definition, and it was many pages into the text that I finally settled on satisfactory conjectures about what Dewey meant by Nature and Experience. And, for all the exegesis, there were no ready hints precisely how his brand of critical philosophy (Instrumentalism, a variant on James’ Pragmatism) was going to be put into peoples’ hands and heads so as to help reshape society. (I did find it odd that Dewey, noted as an educationalist who advocated children learn in a hands-on, problem-solving fashion, did not speak at all about education or pedagogy in this book.) What Dewey does well is present a picture of the on-going evolution of philosophy as it mirrors its socio-historic context. Classic Greek idealism, for example, is rooted in a culture where the artisan is a menial and the thinker a refined aristocrat whose materials are ideal forms with intrinsic ends (telos). The break from scholasticism in the Renaissance was in part an acknowledgment that the artisan’s status had become more elevated, that innovations and breaks from custom in particular crafts signaled a different epistemology, which gradually evolved into empiricism and the scientific method. Even the body-mind schism is sorted, explained as a confusion of language, which anticipated Wittgenstein and the logical-positivists. Ultimately, philosophy and the quest for knowledge continues to evolve, a variant on the artist’s and the scientist’s approach to his/her work. Test something, modify as necessary, test again, modify as necessary. Repeat, ad infinitum. People are meant to engage with nature (ie, the environment—natural and human-made), and their experience is their guide to future engagements with nature, as continual feed-back loops provide direction to make each engagement more necessarily consummative/pleasurable/satisfying. There is no end to the process, and Dewey’s conception of philosophy is that it operate as a monitor and critic to the always-ongoing development of knowledge and values. There are no absolutes; all is heuristic. I’ve paraphrased very loosely a complex book, which ideas are solid (and practical). Unfortunately, I think that the readers for this book number in the dozens, and they will all surely avow that while its content is sound, its presentation has the potential to bewilder and stultify.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim Hurley

    For now, my new bible. John Dewey brings Philosophy back to its roots. The roots where Socrates states that the sole purpose of Philosophy is to show the right way to live (or words to that effect). He does this by grounding Philosophy right where it belongs - in Nature. He also brings along the Human Species for a ride. That simple concept, that Humankind is a part of Nature, not apart from it, is all it takes. What results from that concept is only the simplification of Philosophy, and its ret For now, my new bible. John Dewey brings Philosophy back to its roots. The roots where Socrates states that the sole purpose of Philosophy is to show the right way to live (or words to that effect). He does this by grounding Philosophy right where it belongs - in Nature. He also brings along the Human Species for a ride. That simple concept, that Humankind is a part of Nature, not apart from it, is all it takes. What results from that concept is only the simplification of Philosophy, and its return to its rightful place. Out falls the manufactured problems of idealism, super-naturalism, objective/subjective dualism, etc. The conundrums of Epistemology, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, Moral Theory, Oncology are magically dissipated. Dewey brings this all to head with his stridently impassioned final chapter. It is not an easy read, but it is well-written and artfully structured. To the determined, nuggets of wisdom await. They populate this book like clams at low tide, awaiting to be dug out and eventually savored in a nutritious chowder. Such nuggets as: science is an art; all knowledge stems from belief; "The characteristic human need is for the possession and appreciation of the meaning of things...", etc. Please excuse the bad poetry above (I like clam chowder), but this is one of the most important works in the School of Philosophy. Read it, and be nourished.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anthony DeFalco

    Good overview Rereading it for the first time "Because it takes the form of an epic journey, Experience and Nature is modeled on one of the books cherished by the young Dewey: Homer’s Odyssey. Empirical naturalism is the boat that takes the questers on their journey, with the dangers of wishing for “certainty,” “security,” or “stability,” “permanence,” “faith,” or “universality,” paralleling the dangers faced by the classic questing heroes—to stay with the lotus eaters, to embrace the sirens, to Good overview Rereading it for the first time "Because it takes the form of an epic journey, Experience and Nature is modeled on one of the books cherished by the young Dewey: Homer’s Odyssey. Empirical naturalism is the boat that takes the questers on their journey, with the dangers of wishing for “certainty,” “security,” or “stability,” “permanence,” “faith,” or “universality,” paralleling the dangers faced by the classic questing heroes—to stay with the lotus eaters, to embrace the sirens, to be seduced by Calypso’s ideal beauty. Many begin the search, but few make it all the way back to Ithaca or understanding. The goal—like the golden fleece or the kingdom to be claimed—is the knowledge of what Dewey termed “the true nature of experience.” Just as for Odysseus, the revelation of the quest is that questing never ends. Arrival in Ithaca offers only provisional truth. Nature beckons. Culture and self grow by searching for nature’s meanings." Martin, Jay. The Education of John Dewey . Columbia University Press. Kindle Edition.

  16. 4 out of 5

    spencer

    One to read again. Ebbs and flows with creative energy of radical empiricism.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Anyone who has had training in philosophy will tell you that Dewey was not a clear writer (Cornell West: "What can I say about Dewey? The man couldn't write!"). Moreover, I personally will tell you that this is because Dewey was not a clear thinker (what in the world can it mean to say that meaning lies in use? - if that were AT ALL true, if there weren't essential conditions of use (pertaining to an organism, perhaps), then successful communication would necessarily literally be a miracle - do Anyone who has had training in philosophy will tell you that Dewey was not a clear writer (Cornell West: "What can I say about Dewey? The man couldn't write!"). Moreover, I personally will tell you that this is because Dewey was not a clear thinker (what in the world can it mean to say that meaning lies in use? - if that were AT ALL true, if there weren't essential conditions of use (pertaining to an organism, perhaps), then successful communication would necessarily literally be a miracle - do we like miracles, folks?). Fun to read when you're sleepy, this book becomes infuriating when you're alert. Why? Perhaps because Dewey's thought is, on principle, unprincipled. Unfortunately, this means that Dewey's thought is, you guessed it, unthinkable. Dewey sometimes will, however, thrill you with his rhapsodic invocations of just how differently the Ancient Greeks thought from how we do. Well, the Ancient Greeks, whom Dewey seemingly knew so well (though definitely not in detail), had a word for truth: aletheia. Literally translated, it means "unforgettable." If I can't remember anything you said Dewey, I believe it follows that, among other things, Jerry Fodor was right: "Pragmatism is perhaps the worst idea that philosophy ever had." Living proof is in these pages.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Read as part of a Senior Seminar as an undergrad.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Frank D'hanis junior

    A work of enormous insight.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marco Bitetto

    This is another excellently written philosophical presentation of the art of teaching and learning. As such, it is both readable and understandable by anyone that has at least a GED...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Silver

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  23. 4 out of 5

    Throwaway

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mario Negrello

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Killorin

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bud Ruf

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nolan J. Burris

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darren

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