Access to the full text of the entire article is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Dewey, John (1859–1952) By La Shot, Derek

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1564-1
Published: 02/05/2017
Retrieved: 18 May 2024, from


John Dewey was an American philosopher, educational theorist, and one of the three major pragmatists, along with William James and Charles Saunders Peirce. After obtaining a doctorate at Johns Hopkins, he began his academic career at the University of Michigan, where he established a psychology laboratory that studied stimulus reflexes. Later, at the University of Chicago, he turned to the reform of primary and secondary education and founded programs that could better integrate immigrants into American culture. He defended democracy, envisioning it as a sense of community in which the individual interests of all could eventually be understood. Individualism necessitated the appeal to mutual dependence and institutions, which were tested and constantly changed over time for the greater good, in a kind of perpetual scientific experiment. Central to his thinking on education was the notion of experience. Knowledge, he held, was always obtained after reflection upon concrete experiences. In this model, called the “Dewey flux,” one generates abstractions (mental ideas) after having concrete experiences. These abstractions in turn then have to be rendered material—Dewey’s version of the “hermeneutic circle.” The mission of progressive education, for Dewey, was to get students to become conscious of this perpetual “flux” between concrete experiences and abstractions.

content locked



Article DOI



Related Items

Citing this article:

La Shot, Derek. Dewey, John (1859–1952). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

Copyright © 2016-2024 Routledge.