Democracy of Education by John Dewey

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What does it mean when he states, “Education is the laboratory in which philosophic distinctions become concrete and are tested.”

This is in John Dewey's Democracy and Education, Chapter 24: Philosophy of Education.

Jason

Posted 2018-11-03T05:37:37.530

Reputation: 63

1Do you have a source for the quote? That may help someone provide an answer. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-03T05:42:25.070

2I found a reference and made an edit. You may roll this back or continue editing. Again, welcome! – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-03T05:49:05.530

Answers

6

The question is what does the following sentence from John Dewey's Democracy and Eduction mean:

Education is the laboratory in which philosophic distinctions become concrete and are tested.

In that same paragraph Dewey warns that students of philosophy may see philosophy as relevant to philosophers alone:

The student of philosophy "in itself" is always in danger of taking it as so much nimble or severe intellectual exercise—as something said by philosophers and concerning them alone.

Dewey, however, sees more value in philosophy than this "intellectual exercise":

If we are willing to conceive education as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men, philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education.

Given the above what Dewey may mean is that philosophy should not be merely "intellectual exercises", but it should be down-to-earth "concrete". This can be accomplished in the "laboratory" of "education" where "philosophical distinctions" can be "tested".


Reference

John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Project Gutenberg EBook produced by David Reed, and David Widger, 2008 https://www.gutenberg.org/files/852/852-h/852-h.htm

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2018-11-03T05:37:37.530

Reputation: 18 742

1Good answer! Perhaps it is helpful to say that "concrete" and especially "laboratory" and "test" are terms that indicate that philosophy has to become a practice if it wants to be considered knowledge. Otherwise, it is just that: A hypothesis. Or even worse: a theory about a theory. The link to education then is to be considered as an emphasis of the fact that the distinctions would have to be useful for Man, i.e. in human life, not just for some philosophers in their ivory towers. Is there any better place to find out about that than a classroom full of (relatively "uneducated") people? – Philip Klöcking – 2018-11-03T11:00:23.610

1@PhilipKlöcking Good point that philosophy has to become a practice for Dewey if it wants to be knowledge. – Frank Hubeny – 2018-11-03T11:10:28.913