Why, according to John Dewey, does Philosophy need recovery?  What, according to him, is so groundbreaking about Pragmatism?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dewey makes the argument that philosophy needs recovery because it is not as rooted in solving problems. Dewey believes that the tendency to dwell on academic or intellectual matters that are far divorced from reality is part of the reason why Philosophy needs a sense of recovery:  "Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solution. Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative—not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems."  Dewey believes that Philosophy has to be transformed because it attaches itself to "theology and theological morals."  In Dewey's mind, Pragmatism is groundbreaking because it seeks to establish experience and real world attachment as a viable metric for philosophical success.  Dewey argues that an approach which is rooted in Pragmatism is fundamentally transformative because it seeks to find solutions. Dewey believed that Pragmatism's emphasis resided in solving problems, thereby revealing truth.  Dewey seeks to make the discourse of philosophy more connected to experience.  It is here where he sees the need for recovery and why Pragmatism was so groundbreaking for him.  Dewey argues that being able to use philosophy as a connective force to experience is a tool that individuals possess and must use:  "The human being has upon his hands the problem of responding to what is going on around him so that these changes will take one turn rather than another, namely, that required by its own further functioning."  It is in this need to "respond" that makes Pragmatism so important for Dewey.

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