John Dewey pp 25-36 | Cite as

Open Philosophy

  • John BaldacchinoEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


Dewey’s work invites us to reflect through action, as we take responsibility for what we gain from experience; how we assess and act upon the present; and how we project our future through democratic forms of associated living. This begins to give us a picture of the shared dispositions and habits that make us who we are. What we do is done by dint of a disposition towards a world of humans and things that are born, found and made. Disposition never works in isolation. What prompts Dewey’s philosophical direction is not a dogmatic search for a final answer that seals or fulfils a pre-existing set of objectives. Philosophy is more concerned with our experience as it is communicated and mediated by our actions. Communicated experience comes from a convergence between the contexts that we find as individuals and what we construct together. The outcome reflects how we co-operate democratically—i.e. in associated forms of living. Dewey confirms that in the juncture that occurs between thinking and doing, the process of argument becomes pedagogical. Pedagogical argument is not didactic. It does not force its position on anyone. Change and renewal are central to Dewey’s own philosophical disposition. They come about through critical argument and open experimentation. Openness is a means by which we can assess, communicate and ultimately reject the distinctions we make, think and do. Yet openness is not a given, nor is it a natural condition that we come with. Openness is done through experimental forms of doing and arguing, and by implication it carries a sense of criticality, just as any form of communication that emerges from experimentation comes from the will of individuals who develop a disposition to work together. As openness is a method of discovery, invariably we would have to pose more questions than simply produce or presume conclusive answers. With this context in mind, as one reads Dewey one engages with a concept and practice of education that is a horizon on which the contest between liberty and unfreedom is fiercely played. Unless this contest is had, everything else remains open to unfreedom.


Thinking Action Habit Disposition Openness Communication Unfreedom 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeUK

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