John Dewey Problem Solving Model

He sought to reconnect philosophy with the mission of education-for-living (philosophy as “the general theory of education”), a form of social criticism at the most general level, or “criticism of criticisms” (, MW9: 338).Set within the larger picture of Darwinian evolutionary theory, philosophy should be seen as an activity undertaken by interdependent organisms-in-environments.

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This standpoint, of active adaptation, led Dewey to criticize the tendency of traditional philosophies to abstract and reify concepts derived from living contexts.

As did other classical pragmatists, Dewey focused criticism upon traditional dualisms of metaphysics and epistemology (e.g., mind/body, nature/culture, self/society, and reason/emotion) and then reconstructed their elements as parts of larger continuities.

He spoke on topics of broad moral significance, such as human freedom, economic alienation, race relations, women’s suffrage, war and peace, human freedom, and educational goals and methods.

Typically, discoveries made via public inquiries were integrated back into his academic theories, and aided their revision.

For example, human thinking is not a phenomenon which is radically outside of (or external to) the world it seeks to know; knowing is the ways organisms with evolved capacities for thought and language cope with problems.

John Dewey Problem Solving Model

Minds, then, are not passively observing the world; rather, they are actively adapting, experimenting, and innovating; ideas and theories are not rational fulcrums to get us beyond culture, but rather function experimentally within culture and are evaluated on situated, pragmatic bases.

In no small part, Dewey’s career was launched by his attempt to mediate and harmonize these views.

While they shared the idea of “organism”, Dewey also saw in both —- and rejected—any aspects deemed overly abstract, atomizing, or reductionistic.

He grew up in Burlington, was raised in the Congregationalist Church, and attended public schools.

After studying Latin and Greek in high school, Dewey entered the University of Vermont at fifteen and graduated in 1879 at nineteen.

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