John Dewey and American Democracy

Robert B. Westbrook, Author Cornell University Press $45 (570p) ISBN 978-0-8014-2560-8
Highly regarded but largely unread today, Dewey is generally considered a pragmatist in the mainstream of American liberalism. This exciting portrait of the philosopher as an advocate of participatory democracy and a political activist presents him as a more radical voice than is generally assumed. Although the anti-Stalinist thinker cared little for Marx and was quick to see the repressive nature of Soviet collectivism, he considered himself a democratic socialist in the 1920s and '30s, and questioned corporate capitalism's capacity to promote democratic values. Dewey often is blamed for ``aimless'' progressive education, but Westbrook, a historian at the University of Rochester, argues that his actual impact on U.S. schools was limited, and examines Dewey's vision of the school as a laboratory fostering social, cooperative impulses instead of competitive, selfish individualism. This study, intellectual biography of the highest order, reevaluates Dewey's thought as a signpost for the revitalization of democracy. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-8014-8111-6
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