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'To Be Is To Respond': Realising a Dialogic Ontology For Deweyan Pragmatism

Higham, R; (2018) 'To Be Is To Respond': Realising a Dialogic Ontology For Deweyan Pragmatism. Journal of Philosophy of Education , 52 (2) pp. 345-358. 10.1111/1467-9752.12290. Green open access

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Abstract

Dewey's pragmatism rejected ‘truth’ as indicative of an underlying reality, instead ascribing it to valuable connections between aims and ends. Surprisingly, his argument mirrors Bishop Berkeley's Idealism, summarised as ‘esse est percepi’ (to be is to be perceived), whose thinking is shown to be highly pragmatist—but who retained a foundationalist ontology by naming God as the guarantor of all things. I argue that while this position is unsustainable, pragmatism could nonetheless be strengthened through an ontological foundation. Koopman's charges of foundationalist ‘givenism’ in Dewey's work, and in his promotion of the scientific method, are not proven. However, Koopman's ‘genealogical pragmatism’ may develop Deweyan educational theory by addressing dilemmas around curricular study. Koopman's arguments also point towards a missing ontological piece in Dewey's theory of knowledge. In the final section of the article I offer a dialogic ontology as compatible with pragmatism. This dialogical ontology provides both an ethical foundation through interrelatedness, and a generative theory of meaning and experience, as emergent from the encounter with difference. In this framework, to be is to respond—or be responded to. I offer the metaphor of ‘realisation’ to capture the human experience implied by this ontological stance.

Type: Article
Title: 'To Be Is To Respond': Realising a Dialogic Ontology For Deweyan Pragmatism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9752.12290
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.12290
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10046811
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