2020-03Forum
John Dewey’s Theory of Emergence: Culture, Mind, Consciousness, and Cognition

Abstract:

Emergentism is an important and yet underexplored component of John Dewey’s metaphysical program, and concerns the ways in which existences relate, operate, and grow in coordination with a more inclusive environment. Through an emergent account, Dewey addresses continuities among the generic traits of nature, inanimate substance, biological life, and experiential “fields” such as mind and consciousness. The notion of a field is especially important for depicting the ways in which existences serially interact in accordance with some particular purpose or set of functions. Apart from an emergent scheme that contextualizes the interactive contexts of experience, phenomena such as “mind” and “consciousness” remain enigmatic occurrences. Moreover, cognition, and with it instances of “knowing,” remain susceptible to merely “subjective” characterizations that reinforce a misleading dualism between mind and nature. In addition to its role in addressing naturalistic continuities, Dewey’s emergentism suggests a non-reductive philosophical methodology that directly challenges contemporary varieties of realism and materialism.

Keywords:

Dewey, emergentism, experience, metaphysics, naturalism, pragmatism

How to cite:

Cherlin, Paul Benjamin. “John Dewey’s Theory of Emergence: Culture, Mind, Consciousness, and Cognition.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 3 (2020):  86-98. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0033.

Author:

Paul Benjamin Cherlin
Minneapolis College
1501 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA;
The College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
2850 Abbey Plaza, Collegeville, Minnesota 56321, USA
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3607-5197
pcherlin001@csbsju.edu

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