Dewey's naturalized Hegelianism in operation: experimental inquiry as self-consciousness

Citation metadata

Author: Scott Johnston
Date: Summer 2010
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Essay
Length: 9,532 words
Lexile Measure: 1300L

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

In this paper, I will press Dewey's talk of the self, consciousness, and self-consciousness as it is developed in Experience and Nature together with some attention to Dewey's other great experiential text, Art as Experience. I will suggest that Hegel's developmental and dialectical understanding of self-consciousness occurs in Dewey's work, albeit in naturalized form. My claim is not that Dewey reproduces Hegel's dialectic, or that Dewey's notion of self-consciousness emerges as isomorphic with Hegel's own. In fact, developing this understanding of consciousness and self-consciousness leads me to conclude that for Dewey, these are roughly equivalent to experimental inquiry and science. To inquire, I claim, is to be 'conscious of.' To inquire experimentally, deliberately, and methodically is to conduct science. Consciousness and self-consciousness emerge as activities, rather than as all-pervading states of the organism. In a claim similar to one Hegel makes in the Phenomenology of Spirit, Dewey maintains that intellectual activity--thought and reflection--is the proper occasion for self and other-awareness. The moments of pause, doubt, and unsettlement that Dewey claims are the beginnings of experimental inquiry are also the proper beginnings of consciousness. Dewey's particular take on consciousness is at one with his emergent, as opposed to absolutist, understanding of the self. Keywords: Dewey, Hegel, Self-consciousness, Inquiry, Experience and Nature, Phenomenology of Spirit.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A244717486