2

8. Which of the following is most likely to be an instance of true learning, in Dewey's view?

a. You finally untangled the knot in your shoelaces
b. You memorized the multiplication table
c. You sent a belated birthday card to a friend
d. You read Shakespeare

The answer key on p 220 specifies (a), which I accept because (a) implies that one has educated oneself on a practical necessity by experience.

But why is (d) incorrect? For daily life, reading Shakespeare is less practical than (a), but less practicality does not imply less true reading.

3

Richard Field writes at the beginning of his article on Dewey:

John Dewey was a leading proponent of the American school of thought known as pragmatism, a view that rejected the dualistic epistemology and metaphysics of modern philosophy in favor of a naturalistic approach that viewed knowledge as arising from an active adaptation of the human organism to its environment. On this view, inquiry should not be understood as consisting of a mind passively observing the world and drawing from this ideas that if true correspond to reality, but rather as a process which initiates with a check or obstacle to successful human action, proceeds to active manipulation of the environment to test hypotheses, and issues in a re-adaptation of organism to environment that allows once again for human action to proceed. [My emphasis]

For the question perhaps the most important part is that learning is an "active manipulation of the environment to test hypotheses".

Consider the four options to choose from:

a. You finally untangled the knot in your shoelaces

b. You memorized the multiplication table

c. You sent a belated birthday card to a friend

d. You read Shakespeare

Only one of these will be right. Regardless of how valuable the other options are, the only one that involves "active manipulation of the environment to test hypotheses" is the first option, (a).


Reference

Field, Richard, "John Dewey (1859—1952)", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy https://www.iep.utm.edu/dewey/

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