chapter  3
The challenge of non-refl ective (aesthetic) experience
Pages 18

The aim of this chapter is to highlight the diffi culties Dewey experiences in trying to fl esh out a coherent theory of experience. He recognizes that such a coherent theory requires a sense of the connection between refl ective and non-refl ective experience. However, because he considers all forms of analysis to be refl ective only, his attempts to understand this connection are purely from the perspective of refl ective experience. Dewey’s beliefs about analysis as refl ective only are premised on his understanding of time as chiefl y governed by temporal continuity, meaning that time exists as a timeline, with pastpresent-future as points along this line. This means that the immediate present moment is always fl eeting, moving into the past before it can be refl ected upon. From this perspective, non-refl ective experience is background context to refl ective experience, a background which is continuous with the two types of refl ective experience. In other words the products of concrete and abstract refl ective experience accumulate as the contextual background to further analysis; they operate in this way as mind. However, in Dewey’s framework the immediate non-refl ective moment remains problematic. He understands it as subjective consciousness. Importantly, he connects this with emotion and from there with art, calling it aesthetic experience. This aesthetic experience is much closer in kind to existence understood as simple qualitative whole.