chapter  3
Dewey’s Philosophy
WithWalter Feinberg
Pages 33

John Dewey's educational philosophy is intricately tied to his thoughts on psychology, politics and art. To understand Dewey's conception of meaning, it is useful to recall William James's famous description of the world of the new infant as one of blooming, buzzing confusion. Dewey's idea of meaning assumes a certain kind of world, one which is initially precarious and where the search for meaning is an effort to provide stability, predictability and communicability by establishing a condition for coordination and participation. The idea of a tradition grown dysfunctional opens up two additional features of Dewey's system: his moral theory and his understanding of individual and social behavior. Moral education for Dewey involves the development of the capacity to reflect on existing habits and customs, recognizing those that have become dysfunctional. It also involves the capacity to project and to experiment with alternatives courses of action that could further additional growth.