2018-04Thematic Section
Affording Our Culture: “Smart” Technology and the Prospects for Creative Democracy


John Dewey, as Sidney Hook characterized him, was the philosopher of science and freedom. Dewey, as Larry Hickman has demonstrated, was also a philosopher of technology. And, as most people familiar with Dewey know, he was a philosopher of education and democracy. The complex of technology, science, freedom, education and democracy requires re-examination, not only because of our contemporary cultural political situation but also because of our growing insights into the human condition thanks to the technosciences of life, especially human life. Dewey’s philosophical method of reconstruction, equipped with insights from evolutionary neuroscience and ecological psychology, offers means of reconceiving and thus reevaluating our conception of tools and technology within our cultural context. I begin to take up Mark Tschaepe’s challenge to neuropragmatism to counter what he calls “dopamine democracy” – Plato’s critique of democracy resurrected in neural garb coupled with a critical examination of how social media and other so-called “smart” technologies undermine healthy democratic life. Central to this neuropragmatist approach are cultural affordances – opportunities for action humans have created initially for specific purposes and later retrofitted for other ends-in-view. Dewey’s reconstruction – as method as well as the reconstruction of technology, science, freedom, education and democracy as an entangled complex – is thus imagined as our best strategy for achieving the culture of creative democracy.


digital devices, social media, democracy, neuropragmatism, dopamine, affordances, neuroscience

How to cite

Solymosi, Tibor. “Affording Our Culture: “Smart” Technology and the Prospects for Creative Democracy.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 4(6) (2018): 46–69. https://doi.org/10.26319/6916.


Tibor Solymosi
Department of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University


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