University of Utah
Audrey Thompson
off. 308C MBH
Fall 2002
voicemail: (801) 587-7803
fax: (801) 587-7801
ECS 6621 (001) and 7621 (001)
mailbox in 307 MBH
home email:
Pragmatism and the Philosophy of John Dewey
office email:
Class meets M 4:35-7:35 in OSH 232
Special Topic: John Dewey and Cornel West
Office hours: M 3:00-4:30, W 11:00-12:30 and by appt.

PURPOSE OF COURSE

The purpose of this course is to examine the work of John Dewey and Cornel West in light of the “classical” Anglo-American pragmatism associated with Charles S. Peirce, William James, and George Herbert Mead (as well as Dewey) and the African-American tradition in pragmatism associated with W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and Carter G. Woodson (along with West). Each of these forms of pragmatism offers distinctive accounts of the relation between knowledge and social change; the course will be concerned with the intellectual tools that Dewey’s cultural-political pragmatism and West’s prophetic pragmatism offer in conceiving and bringing about social change, as well as with the educational implications that emerge from these forms of pragmatism.

As leading U.S. philosophers, John Dewey and Cornel West have exerted vital influence on mainstream progressive philosophy. This course seeks to locate their distinct approaches to pragmatism within a complex political, cultural, and intellectual tradition, so as to consider the conservative, liberal, and radical assumptions and implications of their arguments and analyses.

In examining Dewey’s and West’s views on such issues as democracy, art, individualism, social conflict, self-expression, social change, the scientific method, culture, schools as democratic institutions, and the more broadly conceived purposes of educated intelligence, we will also be considering the extent to which Dewey’s influential educational arguments speak to the interests of some groups to the exclusion of others — and whether his arguments can be reframed in inclusive terms. Framing education broadly, as Dewey understood it, the course considers Dewey’s and West’s discussions of political theory, scientific and intellectual understanding, aesthetic appreciation, and, to a certain extent, moral knowledge and conduct, along with specifically school-based analyses and recommendations.

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Cornel West, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism
John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems
John Dewey, Art as Experience (portions)
Cornel West, The Cornel West Reader (portions)
George Yancy, ed., Cornel West: A Critical Reader (portions)

Additional Readings

The above texts are available at the University Bookstore and on reserve at the University Library. A few additional articles and chapters will also be assigned and will be placed on electronic reserve at the University Library.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

There are five required texts for the course; portions of Quest for Certainty and Democracy and Education, as well as a few articles, will be assigned as well. Written requirements will include three mini (one-to-two page) summary assignments focusing on central concepts in Dewey’s and West’s work; a short midterm paper (5 pages); and a final paper (approximately 12-15 pages) focusing on a particular issue or set of issues in Dewey’s and West’s work. The final paper should draw on at least three of the books used in the course, along with any other applicable readings. In addition, the course requirements include regular attendance, participation in class discussion, and careful reading of the assigned texts.

GRADING

The course has two main purposes — clarifying and synthesizing Dewey’s and West’s analyses and arguments, on the one hand, and interrogating and assessing them, on the other. The summary mini-papers will focus on exposition, while the short midterm paper and final paper will bring to bear critical analysis as well as appreciative assessment of particular concepts.

First mini-paper summary: 10%
Second mini-paper summary : 10%
Third mini-paper summary: 10% (note: do either option A or option B)
Short midterm paper: 20%
Final paper: 35%
Class participation/discussion: 15%

SCHEDULE

Mon. 26 Aug. I. Introduction
In-class reading: Emerson, “Circles”

Mon. 2 Sept. Holiday: No Classes

Mon. 9 Sept. II. Framing Pragmatism
Readings:

Electronic handout: “Theodicy”

Mon. 16 Sept. III. Cultural and Political Critique
Readings:

Mon. 23 Sept. IV. Democracy and Race
Readings: First mini-paper due

Mon. 30 Sept. V. Community and Method
Readings:
    Dewey, Public and Its Problems, Ch. 4, 5, 6

Mon. 7 Oct. VI. Early African-American Pragmatism
Readings:

Mon. 14 Oct. VII. Du Bois as Pragmatist
Readings: Mon. 21 Oct. VIII. Democracy and Education
Readings: Short midterm paper due

Mon. 28 Oct. IX. Cultural Imperialism
Readings:

Mon. 4 Nov. X. Dewey on Quantitative Methods
Readings:
    Dewey, Quest for Certainty, Ch. 1, 4, 5, (6), 9

Second mini-paper due

Mon. 11 Nov. XI. Dewey on the Qualities of Experience
Readings:
    Dewey, Art as Experience, Ch. 1, 3, 9, 14

Third mini-paper due (option A)

Mon. 18 Nov. XII. Pragmatism Resurgent
Readings:

Mon. 25 Nov. XIII. West’ s Prophetic Pragmatism
Readings: Third mini-paper due (option B)

Mon. 2 Dec. XIV. Critiques of Prophetic Pragmatism
Readings:

Wed. 11 Dec. Final Papers Due by 4:30 p.m.

List of Course Readings

Lerone Bennett, Jr., “Reading, ’Riting, and Racism,” in The Challenge of Blackness (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co., Inc., 1972), 224-30.

John Dewey, Art as Experience, in John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953, series ed. Jo Ann Boydston, Vol. 10: 1934, ed. Harriet Furst Simon (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987).

John Dewey, Democracy and Education, in John Dewey: The Middle Works, 1899-1924, series ed. Jo Ann Boydston, Vol. 9: 1916, ed. Patricia R. Baysinger and Barbara Levine (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980).

John Dewey, The Public and Its Problems, in John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953, series ed. Jo Ann Boydston, Vol. 2: 1925-1927 [Essays, Reviews, Miscellany, and the Public and Its Problems], ed. Bridget A. Walsh (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984).

John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, in John Dewey: The Later Works, 1925-1953, series ed. Jo Ann Boydston, Vol. 4: 1929, ed. Harriet Furst Simon (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984).

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar,” in The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Brooks Atkinson (New York: The Modern Library, 1940), 45-63.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles,” in The Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Brooks Atkinson (New York: The Modern Library, 1940), 279-91.

Nancy Fraser, “Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical ‘Race’ Theory, and the Politics of Culture,” in The Revival of Pragmatism: New Essays on Social Thought, Law, and Culture, ed. Morris Dickstein (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), 157-75.

Robert Gooding-Williams, “Evading Narrative Myth, Evading Prophetic Pragmatism: Cornel West’s The American Evasion of Philosophy,” The Massachusetts Review 32, no. 4 (Winter 1991-1992): 517-42.

Clevis Headley, “Cornel West on Prophesy, Pragmatism, and Philosophy: A Critical Evaluation of Prophetic Pragmatism,” in Cornel West: A Critical Reader, ed. George Yancy (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 59-82.

Peniel E. Joseph, “‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot’: Cornel West, the Crisis of African-American Intellectuals and the Cultural Politics of Race,” in Cornel West: A Critical Reader, ed. George Yancy (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 295-311.

Alain LeRoy Locke, “The Political and Practical Conceptions of Race,” in Race Contacts and Interracial Relations: Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Race, ed. Jeffrey C. Stewart (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1992), 20-40.

Charles W. Mills, “Prophetic Pragmatism as Political Philosophy,” in Cornel West: A Critical Reader, ed. George Yancy (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 192-223.

Charles S. Peirce, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” in Selected Writings (Values in a Universe of Change), ed. Philip P. Wiener (New York: Dover, 1958/1966), 113-36. Originally published in Popular Science Monthly (January 1878): 286-302.

Ross Posnock, “Going Astray, Going Forward: Du Boisian Pragmatism and its Lineage,” in The Revival of Pragmatism: New Essays on Social Thought, Law, and Culture, ed. Morris Dickstein (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), 176-89.

Hilary W. Putnam, “Pragmatism Resurgent: A Reading of The American Evasion of Philosophy,” in Cornel West: A Critical Reader, ed. George Yancy (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 19-37.

Audrey Thompson, “Political Pragmatism and Educational Inquiry,” in Philosophy of Education: 1996, ed. Frank Margonis (Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, 1997), 425-34.

Cornel West, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989).

Cornel West, “Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization,” in The Cornel West Reader (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 87-118. Source: Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West, The Future of the Race (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 53-112, 180-96.

Cornel West, “The New Cultural Politics of Difference,” in The Cornel West Reader (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 119-39. Source: Cornel West, “The New Cultural Politics of Difference,” in Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America (New York: Routledge, 1993), 3-32. Originally appeared in Russell Fergusun, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Cornel West, eds., Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990).

Cornel West, “Race and Modernity,” in The Cornel West Reader (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 55-86. Source: Cornel West, “African Americans in Conflict: Alienation in an Insecure Culture” and “A Genealogy of Modern Racism” in Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982), 27-65.

George Yancy, “Religion and the Mirror of God: Historicism, Truth, and Religious Pluralism,” in Cornel West: A Critical Reader, ed. George Yancy (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2001), 114-38.



 
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