JOHN DEWEY and the AESTHETICS OF MORAL INTELLIGENCE

1993

by D. Seiple
 (David Ilett Seiple )  

"Submitted in partial fulfillment of the  
requirements for the degree of the Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Columbia University"

"All Rights Reserved"

     

     For American philosophy, the mid-1970's was an era of shifts and expansions that we are only now beginning to assess.  In hindsight we can see that almost simultaneously, some of the central concerns of very different philosophical traditions began to converge.  In 1975 at the University of Vermont, Richard Rorty gave his lecture on Dewey's Metaphysics.[1] In that same year at Princeton, Michael Sukale completed for publication the volume containing his essay on Dewey and Heidegger.[2]  Since then favorable interest in Dewey's work has taken what can only be called a dramatic turn, and one naturally wonders how deep and lasting this Dewey revival will be.

     Unfortunately, rising interest in Dewey has not always been leavened with sufficient attention to his fundamental philosophical vision.  This is partly due to the fact that despite some moments of brilliant prose, Dewey is not generally a very careful writer.  His style is aggravated by one of his primary goals, which is to lead philosophy away from subtle technicalities and make it accessible to the "common man" -- with the result that the ambiguities of ordinary discourse get imported into most of his key notions.  So admittedly, it is easy to come away from reading Dewey with the vague sense that something interesting seems to be going on, but without much clarity as to what.  But all is not lost.  What counts as a defect from one angle might prove to be an asset from another, and if Dewey is right, our ordinary intuitions are philosophical fertile territory.   

   In Dewey's case, the patient and sympathetic commentator will be hampered by no restrictive architectonic that might block the road to exegetical inquiry.  But what a commentator does need is the kind of careful attention to textual detail that has often been lacking in Dewey research, and one of my essential claims here will be that this attentiveness makes it clear that Dewey's essential vision throughout is an aesthetic vision.  Keeping that in mind will alleviate some of the belabored confusions, truncated elaborations, and outright misrepreseatations that have recently appeared, even in writings alleged to be most sympathetic to Dewey's "real intentions."  A case in point is the work of Richard Rorty, who more than anyone has been responsible for the revival of interest in Dewey, but whose reading of Dewey is seriously impaired by his own



     [1]  Reprinted in (Rorty: CP, 72ff).

     [2]  (Sukale: CSP, 121ff).

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

                                                                            

INTRODUCTION

(1)        Dewey's Refutation of Compartmentalism

(2)        The Significance of Anti-Compartmentalism

CH. 1   COMPARTMENTALISM AND THE PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ART: Intelligence as a functional unity    

(A).   Compartmentalism

(i)   Instrumentalism and Aestheticism  
(ii)  Formalism: Bell and Fry

 (B).   Aesthetic Experience as Organic Unity

(i)   Immediacy  
(ii)  Fusion

(C).   Compartmentalism and the  SPT

(i)   Theory and Praxis  
(ii)  The Disinterestedness Thesis (DT)  
(iii) The Significance-for-Praxis Thesis  (SPT)

(D).   Expression as Critical Control

(i)   Descriptive Form1 and Explanatory Form2  
(ii)  Critical Control  
(iii) The Refutation of the SPT

(E).   Internal Relation of Means and Ends

(i)   Praxis and Poiesis
(ii)  Emotion and Interaction  
(iii) Fundedness and Seeing-as  
Comment         

CH. 2  PRAXIS AS POIESIS: A Model for Human Conduct

 (A).   The Idealization of Praxis

(i) Continuity between Life and Art  
(ii)  Dualism  
(iii) Idealization  

(B).   Moral Conduct as a Mean

(i)   Impulse and Routine  
(ii)  Moral Intelligence

(C).   Context-Sensitivity and Social Embeddedness

(i)   Moral Conflict  
(ii)  Schematic Applicability  
(iii) Moral Perception and Dramatic  Rehearsal  
(iv)  An Experience  
(v)   The Double Aspect of Moral Ends

 (D).   Moral Intelligence as Poiesis

(i)   Imagination  
(ii)  Moral Media  
(iii) Moral Appraisal: Seeing-As  
Comment: The Organic Unity of the Moral Situation

CH. 3   FORM:  QUALITY, DESIGN, VIRTUE

(A).   Art as Experience: Quality

(i)   George Dickie on `Aesthetic Experience'  
(ii)  Art as Experience  
(iii) The Art "Object" and the Emergence of Pervasive Form

(B).   Art as Experience: The Teleology of Design

(i)   Interactive Situations as Systems  
(ii)  Activity
(iii) "Intentionality"  
(iv)  Equilibrium

(C).   Experience and Experimental Method

(i)   Vitality as a Function of Open   Systems  
(ii)  Fallibilism  
(iii) Qualitative Truth and Method  
(iv)  Richard Rorty on Dewey

(D).   Virtue and the Form of the Self

(i)   Dewey's Neo-Romanticism  
(ii)  Virtue as the Capacity for Growth  
(iii) Moral Intelligence as Appraisal  
Comment: The Self as Integrated Functional System

CH. 4  ART AS EDUCATION: Education and Learning-Transfer

(A).   Dewey and Social Reform: Normal Experience

(B).   Art: Aspects of Moral Relevancy

(i)   Aestheticism  
(ii)  Moral Idealization  
(iii) Moral-Aesthetic Education

(C).   Art as Communication (I)

(i)   Requirements of Dewey's art- criticism

(a) Moral Relevancy
(b) Perceptual Adequacy  
(c) Imaginative Reconstruction

(ii)  Communication as discussion among viewers

(a) Meaning 
(b) Form and Substance                      

(D).   Art as Communication (II)

(i)   The Perceiver as Artist  
(ii)  Interpretive Competence and Inferential Criticism

(E).  The Danger of Compartmentalism

(i)   The Unified Self, and Education in Virtue  
(ii)  Representation and Embodiment in Art  
Comment    

 CH. 5  CONCLUSION: DEWEY AND THE ENDS OF ART 

(A).   A Defect in Dewey's Art-Criticism: Dewey'sView of Historical Originality       

(B)    The End of Art: Dewey and Danto

(C)    The Ends of Art in a Democratic Sociey

(i)   The SPT again: Contemporary Compartmentalism (Hilton Kramer)  
(ii)  Vitality as Human Good  

COMMENT   

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

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