• Antony Nickles
    568
    So we can put ourselves in the shoes of some other that calls this 'Commie indoctrination'. They are not letting us in the house to discuss.To them, we are undermining the foundations. They are claiming the virtue word 'democracy' for themselves and excluding us from it. Now you can say oh that's politics and this is democracy, and I can agree, but what are we to do about the Republican Party?unenlightened

    I understand you feel the lack of power here, and you are not wrong. When Dewey reacts to those chiding his call for democracy as a "utopia", it is in the same vein as, "yeah, but what about the real world?" The truth is there is no fact that matters enough to have any effect. There is no convincing; there is no "but don't you see"; knowledge is not power. In the face of that, it would seem that whatever is the most powerful will rule; that justice is simply the interests of the stronger, or--more pertinent here--that we decide or agree what is right, and that (institutionalized) will rule by judgement. But Dewey's call for understanding is not wishful thinking; it is a different playing field. We do not regularly look at the conditions and criteria of our concepts (apologizing, judging, thinking, following a rule, etc.); likewise, we do not normally consider our interests and needs. To investigate the others' is to enlighten both of you. There may be no changing their opinion, but it may be that we change them, or at least change their awareness of themselves, say, that their needs and our needs differ less than our opinions, or our encampments. Now, they may still call names, refuse engagement, moralize, etc., however, if it is not an argument, there is less antagonism and maybe less defensiveness. In the end, however, your duty is your own, but this is not how Dewey wishes democracy could be--if we ignore that these are the conditions for the betterment of our political realm, then we are blind also (treacherously Dewey says) to the structure of the perfection of ourselves.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    Thanks for that. I was wondering what he had to say about fascism, as the negation of democracy; this seems to be the book for that.


    During the rise of fascism in the early twentieth century, American philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey argued that the greatest threat to democracy was not a political regime or even an aggressive foreign power but rather a set of dispositions or attitudes. Though not fascist in and of themselves, these habits of thought—rugged individualism and ideological nationalism—lay the foundation for fascism.
    https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Dewey_for_a_New_Age_of_Fascism.html?id=_HlUzQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

    Review:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341736937_Review_of_Nathan_Crick%27s_Dewey_for_a_New_Age_of_Fascism_Teaching_Democratic_Habits

    And then I saw this 1948 article: https://www.nytimes.com/1948/10/26/archives/president-likens-dewey-to-hitler-as-fascists-tool-says-when-bigots.html

    Looks like the same nonsense runs like a tapeworm through history.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Anyone ever played Civilzation, a turn-based strategy game where you establish a country, choose its government type, and so on? There are downsides to monarchy/fascism/communism/etc. - the social experiments that went horribly wrong - BUT, interestingly, the players receive, get this, bonuses from such governments that are inherited as legacy effects which can make the difference between victory & defeat in the endgame.

    The takeaway is quite straightforward - no type of government is wholly good or wholly bad, each one has its time and place and later generations may reap the benefits of seemingly oppressive systems that their ancestors had to put up with. See? :snicker:
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    no type of government is wholly good or wholly badAgent Smith

    To tie this back in, there is not an argument for democracy; Dewey is describing democracy without advocating for it because equality and freedom are principals born from the human condition for the perfection of the self. Democracy by nature is free, so there is no set end goal (teleologically) thus effectiveness is not its ordinary criteria (this is different for our institutions, including our government). We either have democracy or it teeters into tyranny (Plato says). Its the kind of thing to which we pledge ourselves; we subject ourselves to its terms of judgment, which is why Dewey speaks in terms of treason and treachery. This is a realm like the moral that Nietszche puts beyond (the terms of) good and evil.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    Superb! Even so, in my humble opinion, there hadta be at least one argument for democracy - the PSR requires this to be so. It can't be that the Greeks got outta bed one fine morning and decided let's try democracy for a change - I'm certain that the Greeks knew the aphorism if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    I get it that Dewey is merely describing democracy and that, inter alia, it's about "freedom" (it is definitely less oppressive than tyranny, but then, democracy doesn't automatically lead to happiness whatever that is; something's missing, oui? Perhaps we're dealing with pseudo-democracy or something like that).

    I could be horribly wrong about all this of course.
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    there has to be at least one argument for democracyAgent Smith

    What I wanted to convey is that for Dewey democracy is not come to through argument. The way in which we come to democracy is through pledging our allegiance (much as you do not get married by making a decision, you make vows)--this does not mean you can not have reasons for your allegiance (nor that you can't make a decision to get married). Dewey focuses on conditions as they are because democracy lacks the grounds to assert right or an ideal--we are compromised by default and our consent does not allow us leverage against the individual ills of the state. It is our mutual trust and friendship (being an example to each other to see a different way) that allows for greater intelligibility and further contexts.

    From what I've read the only thing I would say about happiness is that philosophically it is set against despairing of the truth (as Nietzsche puts it) and letting the inevitable failures of democracy disappoint us. This is why Emerson tries to "cheer" us and both speak of "joy" in the face of skepticism, finding a peace Wittgenstein will say.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    I see - there's the cause for democracy (tyranny) & there's the process of democracy (pledging allegiance). It's quite interesting this allegiance business - from to a man (king) to to an idea (democracy). It appears that one must trust one's fellow man to do the same for the well-being of all of course.
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    Just that Dewey is not talking about "the process" of democracy, but the conditions of its existence, what makes it what it is (not how it works, but how it is at all, say, compared to other forms of government). Democracy is based on our personal treatment of others:

    living... as an example of human partiality... as the human individual... open to the further self, in oneself and in others, which means... making oneself intelligible to each other as an inhabitant now also of a further realm ["of the human"]... prepared to recognize others as belonging there... [and] not to... depress, and cynicize and ironize. — "

    Cavell echoes Dewey's call for the act (not "idea") of the creation of democracy through our treatment of others and their expressions. We are not asked to trust the other: that they will join, reciprocate, or end together with us (say, at "well being", even). Dewey talks of faith in my and the other's (equal) "possibility". We are not trusting (naively hoping) that they will be rational like us, our duty is to grant that their judgment and actions have intelligibility, even if we do not yet understand how. Our trust is that there is a future world where all our interests are understood.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    What is democracy?

    Giving everyone a say in government - all are monarchs in their own little one-yea/nay-vote way. It's as if the crown were dismantled into thousands of pieces and distributed among the citizenry. We wouldn't have done that if we didn't (mis/dis)trust each other. The process seems reversible, oui monsieur?

    I fear I might've missed the point.
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    Well, democracy is not our participation in a process (say, voting), it is not the granting of power or authority, it is a way we live. It is not codified in law; what is right is not determined, it is entered into together (not as an agreement, but as a life together, a union, a government, etc.). Also, it is not in allowing others the right to speak; it is in understanding their speech on their terms, treating it as expressions of their interests, as possibilities of a human life.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Also, it is not in allowing others the right to speak; it is in understanding their speech on their terms, treating it as expressions of their interests, as possibilities of a human life.Antony Nickles

    Can you provide an example of this in action in one of the purported democracies?
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    @Gnomon might wanna chime in with his BothAnd idea. Differences are not a bug that we must lament but a feature that we should celebrate. It's either that or The Borg! :snicker:
  • Antony Nickles
    568
    Can you provide an example of this [understanding another’s speech on their terms, treating it as expressions of their interests, as possibilities of a human life] in action in one of the purported democracies?Tom Storm

    In the essay of Dewey's that I attached to the original post, he claims, more even than not purporting a explicit version, that democracy is not maintained in institutions at all (separation of powers, voting, protesting, etc.), but personally by us and interpersonally in how we treat others. It might not look like it, but this is analytical philosophy; he is describing the limits of the category of democracy as Kant uses that word--the necessary conditions and threshold criteria to judge whether what is happening can be categorized as democracy (at all).

    That being said, an example is always a good idea, but it would be an example of a political dispute (different than a moral dispute or a factual dispute). What makes a dispute political is that no one is in an authoritative (better) place to make an assertion (say, to claim what is right); it is in that way that we are all equal (this is the same position each person is in when doing Ordinary Language Philosophy--like Wittgenstein--it is in finding for yourself grounds for my claim that it has validity as evidence).

    So we are using a democratic method to approach a dispute. The Dewey essay is actually quoted in a book I just read on philosophy of education, The Gleam of Light (a bit repetitive and explaining to the inside of a bubble of understanding already, but); the claim is that education should not be held to a scientific standard but to the measures of a child becoming their future selves. Now, democratically, Dewey wants us to learn what desires and needs are attached to conditions as they are, in this case, let's say: how a child learns to come into themselves. My interests are not something I would tell you, only in this case in some way different than opinions and argument. My desires and needs are able to be investigated and described without me--though also through what I say. (To clarify, learning about my interests has been interpreted as my self-interest, which is taken as only what benefits me; for Dewey, what I am interested in is more like: what I am focused on.) I would say that Dewey is interested in allowing a child freedom and the ability to express themselves, including questioning the status quo, so that they learn about themselves and develop their interests and fulfill their needs; not necessarily in conflict with the State, yet possibly apart from it. The interests of using a quantitive measure of outcomes could be said to be to allow for a standard that is certain--comparable, calculable, able to measure the effects of change, etc. Not a very personal claim, nor a dispute over the administration of such educations, but I hope that shows the methodology and difference of Dewey's approach to someone's claim in a political dispute.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Thanks for taking the trouble to describe this in more detail. I'll mull over it.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Democracy as a personal ethic: a way of living, an approach to not only life but to everything, a technique to achieve harmony between selfishness & altruism. BothAnd @Gnomon
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