, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 361-377

Can Deweyan Pragmatist Aesthetics Provide a Robust Framework for the Philosophy for Children Programme?

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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that Dewey’s pragmatist aesthetics, and in particular, his concept of consummatory experience, should be engaged anew to rethink the merits of the Philosophy for Children (PFC) programme, which arose in the 1970s in the US as an innovative educational programme that aims to use philosophy to help school children (aged 6–18) improve their ability to become more conscious of and make judgments about the aspects of their experience that have ethical, aesthetic, political, logical, or even metaphysical meaning. Although an international success, the PFC programme has attracted many criticisms from a variety of directions. I claim that Deweyan concept of consummatory aesthetic experience is broad and flexible enough to provide a robust framework to make sense of the pedagogical horizon of PFC and therefore fruitfully engage the various critics of the movement coming from religious and social conservatives, educational psychologists, critical theorists, postmodernists/posthumanists, and professional philosophers themselves. The goal of this paper is to offer in a preliminary fashion the basic elements of Deweyan pragmatist aesthetics, which was principally elucidated in his Art as Experience, to defend PFC as a viable pedagogy.