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Something to Steer by

Richard Rorty, 20 June 1996

John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism 
by Alan Ryan.
Norton, 414 pp., $30, May 1995, 0 393 03773 8
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... grand old capitalised words go, they suspect, so do grand, stirring visions of the human future. John Dewey shared Strachey’s and Virginia Woolf’s conviction that Sin had been a really terrible idea. He would certainly have agreed with Foucault that truth will always be intertwined with power, and that subjectivity is a social construction. Yet he ...

Just one more species doing its best

Richard Rorty, 25 July 1991

The Later Works 1925-1953. Vol. XVII: Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953 
by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston.
Southern Illinois, 786 pp., $50, August 1990, 0 8093 1661 7
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by J.E. Tiles.
Routledge, 256 pp., £35, December 1988, 0 415 00908 1
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John Dewey and American Democracy 
by Robert Westbrook.
Cornell, 608 pp., $32.95, May 1991, 0 8014 2560 3
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Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank and Lewis Mumford 
by Casey Blake.
North Carolina, 370 pp., $38.45, November 1990, 0 8078 1935 2
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... have, I imagine, met those specifications. But the one who comes first to an American’s mind is John Dewey: a man whose engagement in primary and higher education, and whose active participation in politics, were considerably more extensive than Russell’s – and, I should argue, more focused, intelligent and useful. ...

The Cattle-Prod Election

David Runciman: The Point of the Polls, 5 June 2008

... The American philosopher John Dewey thought that democracy should be like a giant conversation: the nation talking to itself about its hopes and fears and listening to what other people have to say. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for Dewey, he never got to hear what such a conversation might sound like, because the technology wasn’t available ...

In a flattened world

Richard Rorty, 8 April 1993

The Ethics of Authenticity 
by Charles Taylor.
Harvard, 142 pp., £13.95, November 1992, 0 674 26863 6
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... series of radio talks) is the vigour with which he restates the point which Hegel (and later Dewey) urged against Rousseau and Kant: that we are only individuals in so far as we are social. None of us has a self to be faithful to except the one which has been cobbled together in interchanges with parents and siblings, friends and enemies, churches and ...

I was the Left Opposition

Stuart Middleton: Max Eastman, 22 March 2018

Max Eastman: A Life 
by Christoph Irmscher.
Yale, 434 pp., £35, August 2017, 978 0 300 22256 2
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... Eastman was living in New York with Crystal, and through a friend of hers became an assistant to John Dewey at Columbia. Dewey was one of the leading philosophers in America, and his prestige beyond university philosophy departments was such that, as Eastman recalled, ‘rays of his influence may have helped to mould ...

Let every faction bloom

John Patrick Diggins, 6 March 1997

For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism 
edited by Joshua Cohen.
Beacon, 154 pp., $15, August 1996, 0 8070 4313 3
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For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Oxford, 214 pp., £22.50, September 1995, 0 19 827952 3
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Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism 
edited by John Bodnar.
Princeton, 352 pp., £45, September 1996, 0 691 04397 3
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Buring the Flag: The Great 1989-90 American Flag Desecration Controversy 
by Robert Justin Goldstein.
Kent State, 453 pp., $39, July 1996, 0 87338 526 8
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... Before the First World War, the Greenwich Village rebels Randolph Bourne, Max Eastman and John Reed regarded themselves as nationalistic liberators willing to draw on the country’s intellectual traditions. Eastman defined himself as an ‘American lyrical socialist – a child of Walt Whitman reared by Karl Marx’. But with America’s entry into ...

The Middling Sort

Alan Ryan, 25 May 1995

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy 
by Christopher Lasch.
Norton, 276 pp., £16.95, March 1995, 0 393 03699 5
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... mother a social worker and teacher of philosophy. He went to Harvard, where he shared rooms with John Updike and married the daughter of the Harvard historian Henry Steele Commager. He never taught at smart places, however: he taught history at the University of Iowa, then at Northwestern University, and for the last two decades of his life at the University ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens, 4 April 1991

Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... the names of Rudolf Slansky, Ehrlich and Alter, Max Schachtman, Andres Nin, Amadeo Bordiga and John Dewey are, still, names with which to puncture an argument, break up a friendship, revise an article or inaugurate a new and daring small magazine. Keywords include ‘Doctors’ Plot’, ‘Deutscherite’, ‘PR Crowd’, ‘Vyshinsky’ and ...

To the Sunlit Uplands

Richard Rorty: A reply to Bernard Williams, 31 October 2002

Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 328 pp., £19.95, October 2002, 0 691 10276 7
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... herd.’ If you cite this sort of passage from Nietzsche (or similar ones in William James or John Dewey) in order to argue that what we call ‘the search for objective truth’ is not a matter of getting your beliefs to correspond better and better to the way things really are, but of attaining intersubjective agreement, or of attempting to cope ...

Blood and logic

Michael Dummett, 6 January 1994

Politics, Logic and Love: The Life of Jean van Heijenoort 
by Anita Burdman Feferman.
A.K. Peters, 415 pp., £19.95, November 1993, 0 86720 286 6
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... political movement. In April 1937 an international commission, headed by the philosopher John Dewey, assembled in Mexico to enquire into the Stalinist charges of conspiracy against Trotsky, and pronounced a verdict totally exonerating him. This was no doubt useful in influencing world opinion in Trotsky’s favour; but a 1938 manifesto signed by ...

Whose war is it anyway?

David Daiches, 24 August 1995

Days of Anger, Days of Hope: A Memoir of the League of American Writers, 1937-1942 
by Franklin Folsom.
Colorado, 376 pp., £24.50, July 1994, 0 585 03686 1
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... literary journal. The Committee for Cultural Freedom was founded in 1939 by the philosophers John Dewey and Sidney Hook with a similar programme. Lionel Trilling, James Farrell and Dwight Macdonald were among the many writers active on the anti-Stalinist left who were in conflict with the League. Partisan Review posed a series of questions ...

Conversations with Rorty

Paul Seabright, 16 June 1983

Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 
by Richard Rorty.
Harvester, 237 pp., £22.50, February 1983, 0 7108 0403 2
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... The vision had sent it up a blind alley, from which Wittgenstein, Heidegger and, above all, John Dewey could rescue it if only it would listen. The hope for the future, he suggested, lay in Dewey’s vision of a culture no longer dominated by a hierarchy of disciplines (which had placed science in an aristocratic ...
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature 
by Richard Rorty.
Blackwell, 401 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 631 12961 8
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The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy 
by Stanley Cavell.
Oxford, 511 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 502571 7
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Philosophy As It Is 
edited by Ted Honderich and Myles Burnyeat.
Pelican, 540 pp., £2.95, November 1979, 0 14 022136 0
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... Wittgenstein’s. The third member of Rorty’s liberating trinity is – surprisingly – John Dewey, for whom Rorty claims the honour of having understood the importance for the general culture of making essentially the same breach with the philosophical tradition as did Wittgenstein and Heidegger. Philosophy, then, has already undergone its ...

At Tate Modern

Hal Foster: Robert Rauschenberg, 1 December 2016

... were received. In keeping with his own desire to suppress authorship and to invite indeterminacy, John Cage called the White Paintings ‘airports’ for ambient accidents of light, shadow and dust. ‘If one were sensitive enough that you could read [them],’ Rauschenberg added, ‘you would know how many people were in the room, what time it was, and what ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby, 9 February 1995

Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... and social reform. The New School for Social Research opened in 1919: Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey were on the staff; Harold Laski and Lewis Mumford were regular visitors. Located in Greenwich Village, the New School became a centre for music, dance and the visual arts, the place to teach or attend lectures. Much of the credit for putting it on ...

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