Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 195–214 | Cite as

Undergoing, Mystery, and Half-Knowledge: John Dewey’s Disquieting Side

  • Vasco d’AgneseEmail author


In this article I argue that Dewey, throughout his work, conducted a systematic dismantling of the concept of rationality as mastery and control. Such a dismantling entails, at the same time, the dismantling of the auto-grounded subject, namely, the subject that grounds itself in the power to master experience. The Deweyan challenge to Western ontology goes straight to the core of the subject’s question. Dewey not only systematically challenged the understanding of thinking as a process consciously managed by the subject but also conceived of thinking as an event rather than a process—something that occurs in us rather than something intentionally staged by a reflective subject. Such a twofold dismantling of rationality and subject rather than a flow in a nihilistic/relativistic account of education results in a reinforcement of education that must be understood not so much as the attempt to understand and predict experience but as the means to create new, unpredictable experience. As a result, education, for Dewey, is grounded on, moved by, and directed at uncertainty. Education, in a sense, engenders uncertainty.


Dewey Uncertainty Education Experience Subject 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySecond University of NaplesCasertaItaly

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