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The Varieties of Transcendence$
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Hermann Deuser, Hans Joas, Matthias Jung, and Magnus Schlette

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823267576

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823267576.001.0001

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Qualitative Experience and Naturalized Religion

Qualitative Experience and Naturalized Religion

An Inner Tension in Dewey’s Thought?

(p.91) Qualitative Experience and Naturalized Religion
The Varieties of Transcendence

Matthias Jung

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines how John Dewey's naturalism creates a significant tension with his all-embracing concept of experience but rejects the notion that he is an instrumentalist with a primary interest in assembling philosophical tools for achieving human goals taken for granted. According to Dewey's concept of qualitative experience, “situational, unifying pervasive qualities” are the starting point for the symbolic articulation of meaning, which reaches from the significance of single actions and events to the interpretive dimension of all-encompassing outlooks on life. Some of these articulations entail truth claims, with the different worldviews implying ontological commitments that may strongly contradict one another. This chapter explores Dewey's philosophy of religion by elucidating his notion of the relationship between meaning and truth, connecting this with his reflections on qualitative experience as the source of both humane meaning and propositional truth, and assessing the impact of this constellation on the nature of his naturalism. It argues that a sense of contingency and fallibilism, normally the hallmark of Dewey's pragmatism, is absent in his worldview-like generalizations.

Keywords:   naturalism, John Dewey, qualitative experience, meaning, truth, philosophy of religion, contingency, fallibilism, pragmatism

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