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Faith in LifeJohn Dewey's Early Philosophy$
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Donald J. Morse

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234707

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234707.001.0001

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Cultural and Intellectual Background

Cultural and Intellectual Background

(p.37) Two: Cultural and Intellectual Background
Faith in Life

Donald J. Morse

Fordham University Press

It turns out that Dewey was well aware of modernism thus defined—namely, as a widespread cultural phenomenon that maintained a rigid separation between the transparent, everyday world of conscious thought and one's deeper and richer emotional contacts with the world. Dewey could not have been unaware of this massive cultural phenomenon, and as a thoughtful and even brilliant young man, he must have had an opinion regarding what was happening around him. This chapter shows that Dewey is concerned to address what one would now call modernism, the cultural condition or malaise in which one believes there is an unbridgeable separation between human meaning on the one side and brute, indifferent nature on the other. In a neglected chapter titled “Poetry and Philosophy”, Dewey holds that pessimism is a cultural condition that leads to the belief in the utter meaninglessness of the universe, and it must be overcome.

Keywords:   modernism, cultural phenomenon, human meaning, pessimism, universe

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