John Dewey,Experience and Nature

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EXPERIENCE AND NATURE

PUBLISHED ON THE FOUNDATIONESTABLISHED IN MEMORY OF PAUL CARUS

EDITOR OF THE OPEN COURT AND THE MONIST1888-19x9

w QW o

U

d

EXPERIENCE AND

NATUREJOHN DEWEY

LONDON

GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN, LTD.RUSKIN HOUSE,40

MUSEUM1929

STREET, W.CX

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CONTENTSTHE PAUL CARUS FOUNDATIONCHAPTERI.

......

JPAGE

ix

II.

EXPERIENCE AND PHILOSOPHIC METHOD EXISTP;NCE AS PRECARIOUS AND AS STABLENATURE, ENDS AND HISTORIESNATURE, MEANS AND KNOWLEDGE

la

4078

III.

..... ..

IV.

121

V. NATURE, COMMUNICATION AND AS MEANING VI. NATURE, MIND AND THE SUBJECT VII. NATURE, LIFE AND BODY-MIND VIII. EXISTENCE, IDEAS AND CONSCIOUSNESS IX. EXPERIENCE, NATURE AND ART...

166

208248298

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.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

354394

X. EXISTENCE, VALUE AND CRITICISM

.

.

.

INDEX

439

THE PAUL CARUS FOUNDATION1852.

Dr. Paul Carus was born in Usenburg, Germany, hi He was educated at the Universities of Strass-

burg and Tubingen, from the latter of which he received the doctorate of philosophy in 1876. It was, however, in the United States, to which he shortly after removed,that his life-work was performed. He became editor of the Open Court in 1888, and later established The Monist,

remaining throughout his career, editor of these two peri* odicals and Director of the editorial policies of the Open

Court Company.Illinois.

He died in

February, 1919, at

La Salle,

The primary interests which actuated Dr. Carus's lifework were in the field of philosophy, touching with almost equal weight the two great phases of modern speculative concern represented by the philosophy of science and comparative religion. To each of these he devoted numerous special studies, and to each he gave the influence of the press which he directed. This influence was in no sense narrow or specialistic. Dr. Caxus was personally profoundly concerned for the broadening of that understanding in all intellectual fields which he felt must be thefoundation of whateveris to be valuable in our future he saw his philosophy never as a closet human culture; pursuit, but always as a quest for the social illumination of mankind, in which his hope of betterment lay. In this interest he combatted prejudice, in religion and

science alike, seeking to divest the spirit of truth of all cloaking of formula, and turning with eager and open

x

THE PAUL CARUS FOUNDATION

eyes in every direction in which there was a suggestion of to men and to thought of every comlight and leading plexion and to all levels of active human concern with

matters of reflection.

Dr.

Cams

was, in fact, strongly

he wished to bring philosophy down from the skies of a too studied abstraction and habituate it to the houses of men's souls and to the richSocratic in disposition:

and changing tides of cultural interests. Certainly so America is concerned his service is a signal one. During much of his career he stood almost alone as a philosopher outside academic walls, a living exponent offar as

useful as

the fact that philosophy is significant as a force as well as an educational discipline. He looked to the

cultivation of philosophy as a frame of

mind openis

to

all,

lay andliberty

professional,is

who

should come to see that social

made

secure only where there

growth of alife-

sympathetic public intelligence. It is with the spirit and intention of Dr. Carus's

family have established in his Lectures. In the United States, memory foundations devoted to the cultivation of philosophy areinhis

work

mind that

the Paul

Cams

so confined to scholastic institutions that the whole field

immured and

of philosophic concern tends to assume the slant of an scholastic discipline; and the observer is

tempted to say that the greatest gift that can befall philosophic liberalism is one that will cause its followers to Such a gift, certainly, forget their professional character.is

more than suggested by a lectureship which comes with no institutional atmosphere to further the free play of the mind upon all phases of life. In the stipulationsfor the

Carus

lectures, theit is

themes of the lectures are

leftis

without definition, for

recognized that philosophy

THE PAUL CARUS FOUNDATIONaspirit of

xi

approach rather than a set of problems or

theories; and the choice of the lecturers, while it is properly placed in the hands of those who make the study of

philosophy their profession, is in no manner limited. The Foundation is free, and it asks of its beneficiaries no other response than the spirit of liberalism. The conditions governing the lectures are few. They are established as a memorial and are to be called the "Paul Cams Lectures." The lecturers are to be chosen by committees appointed from the Divisions of the American Philosophical Association. The lecturer is recognized by an honorarium of one thousand dollars, and the lectures are to be published by the Open Court Company in a series of volumes, which, it is hoped, as the years pass, will become representative of the finest phases of ourIt is expected that series of lecspeculative thought. tures will be delivered biennially, the time and place being set by the committees to whom is delegated the selection of the lecturers. It is more than happy that thefirst series of

delivered by John

the Paul Carus Lectures should have been Dewey, for there is no living American

philosopher ofinfluenceideal*is

whom

oi the

can more truly be said that his type which represents Dr. Carus'sit

HARTLEY BURR ALEXANDER.

PREFACEThepublication of this

new

edition has

made

it

possible

to rewrite completely the first chapter as well as to

make a

few minor corrections throughout the volume. The first chapter was intended as an introduction. It failed of itspurpose; it was upon the whole more technical and harder reading than the chapters which it was supposed to introduce.It

was

also rather confused in

mode

of presentation,

one important point in thought as well. It is hoped that its new form is both simpler and possessed of greaterat

and

continuity.is

If the original intent is

now

better fulfilled,

it

largely due to the help of kindly critics.especial indebtedness to Professor

I wish to record

my

M.

C. Otto of theof

University of Wisconsin

and Mr. Joseph Ratner

Colum-

bia University. In addition to the complete revision of the first chapter, the new edition affords an occasion for inserting in these

prefatory remarks whattext;

is

not to be found in the earlierin the

namely, a summary of the thought of the bookits

order of

development.

The course

of the ideas

is

deter-

mined by a desire to apply in the more general realm of philosophy the thought which is effective in dealing with any and every genuine question, from the elaborate problems ofscience to the practical deliberations of dailylife, trivial

or

The constant task of such thought is to estabconnections between old and new subject-matworking ters. We cannot lay hold of the new, we cannot even keepmomentous.lishit

before our minds,

much less understand

it,

save by the use

ii

PREFACE

of ideas and knowledge we already possess. But just because the new is it is not a mere repetition of something

nw

new color and employed to grasp and interpret the new. The greater the gap, the disparity, between what has become a familiar possession and the traits presented in newold takes on

already had and mastered.in being

The

meaning

subject-matter, the greater

the burden imposed upon reflection; the distance between old and new is the measureis

of the range

and depth of the thought required. Breaks and incompatibilities occur in collective culturepolitics,

as well as in individual

dustry and

modern inhave presented us with an immenselife.

Modern

science,

amountworld.plexities

of material foreign to, often inconsistent with, theintellectualis

most prized

and moral heritage of the westernIt sets the especial

This

the cause of our modern intellectual per-

and confusions.is

problem

for

philosophy to-day andsignificant philosophy

many days an attempt to deal with it; those theories to which this statement seems to apply least arefor

to come.

Every

attempts to bridge the gulf by seeking an escape or refuge. I have not striven in this volume for a reconciliation be-

tween the new and the

old.

I think such endeavors are

good faith and candor. one must do, a body of old beliefs and ideas to apprehend and understand the new, I have also kept in mind the modifications and transformations thatlikely to give rise to casualties to

But

in employing, as

are exacted of those old beliefs.I believe that the

sented in this

method of empirical naturalism prevolume provides the way, and the only way

although of course no two thinkers will travel it in just the same fashion by which one can freely accept thestandpoint and conclusions of modern science: the

wa by

PREFACE

iii

which we can be genuinely naturalistic and yet maintaincherished values, provided they are critically clarified andreinforced.

method, when it is consistently followed, destroys many things once cherished; but it destroys them by revealing their inconsistency withnaturalistic

The

the nature of things

a flaw that always attended them and deprived them of efficacy for aught save emotional consolation. But its main purport is not destructive;empirical naturalismrather a winnowing fan. Only chaff goes, though perhaps the chaff had once been treasis

ured.

An

empirical method which remains true to natureit

does not "save";

is

not an insurance device nor a meit

chanical antiseptic.

But

inspires the

mind with couragein the face of

and

vitality to create

the perplexities of a

new ideals and values new world.

The newtakes

up

introductory chapter (Chapter I) accordingly the question of method, especially with respect

to the relation that exists between experienceIt points to faith in experience

and nature.used asIt finds that

when

intelligently

a meansence

of disclosing the realities of nature.

nature and experience are not enemies or alien.is

Experiit is

not a veil that shuts

man

off

from nature;

a

means of penetrating continually further into the heart of nature. There is in the character of human experience no index-hand pointing to agnostic conclusions, but rathera growing progressivefailures of philosophyself -disclosure of

nature

itself.

The

have come from lack of confidence

in the directive

powers that inhere in experience, if men have but the wit and courage to follow them. Chapter II explains our starting point: namely, that thethings of ordinary experience contain within themselves a mixture of the perilous and uncertain with the settled and

iv

PREFACEThe needfor security compels

uniform.

men

to fasten

upon the regular in order to minimize and to control the precarious and fluctuating. In actual experience this is apractical enterprise,

made possible by knowledge of the recurrent and stable, of facts and laws. Philosophies have too often tried to forego the actual work that is involvedbysetting

in penetrating the true nature of experience,

up

a purely theoretical security and certainty.of this attempt

The

influence

upon the

traditional philosophic preference

for unity, permanence, universals, over plurality, change and particulars is pointed out, as well as its effect in

creating the traditional notion of substance,

now underof

mined by physicalsimilar properties

science.

The tendency

modern

marked by certain and by recurrences, for the older notion of fixed substances is shown to agree with the attitude of naive experience, while both point to the idea of matter andscience to substitute qualitative events,

mind asstances.

significant characters of events, presented in dif-

ferent contexts, rather than underlying

and ultimate sub-

Chapters III and

IV

discuss one of the outstanding

problems namely, the question of laws, mechanical uniformities, on one hand and, on the other, It is pointed out ends, purposes, uses and enjoyments.in philosophy

that in actual experience the latter represent the conse-

quences of series of changes in which the outcomes or ends have the value of consummation and fulfillment; and thatbecause ofthis

value there

is

a tendency to perpetuate

them, render them stable, and repeat them. It is then shown that the foundation for value and the striving torealizeit is

found

in nature,

because when nature

is

viewedchar-

as consisting of events rather than substances,

it is

PREFACEacterized

vof change proit

by

histories, that

is,

by continuity

ceeding from beginnings to endings.natural for genuine initiations

Consequently,

is

and consummations

to oc-

cur in experience.

Owing

to the presence of uncertain

and

precarious factors in these histories, attainment of ends, of

The only way to goods, is unstable and evanescent. render them more secure is by ability to control theof a process.control are

changes that intervene between the beginning and the end These intervening terms when brought under

means

in the literal

and

in the practical sense

of the word.

When

mastered in actual experience theyInstead of

constitute tools, techniques, mechanisms, etc.

being foes of purposes, they are

means of execution; they

are also tests for differentiating genuine aims from merely emotional and fantastic ideals.

Theerties

office

of physical science

is

to discover those prop-

and

relations of things in virtue of

which they are

capable of being used as instrumentalities; physical science

makes claim

to disclose not the inner nature of things but those connections of things with one another that only determine outcomes and hence can be used as means. The

intrinsic nature of events is revealed in experience as the

immediately

felt

qualities

of things.

The

intimate co-

ordination and even fusion of these qualities with theregularities that

form the objects of knowledge,

in

the

proper sense of the

word "knowledge,"

characterizes intel-

ligently directed experience, as distinct

from mere casual

and

uncritical experience.

This conception of the instrumental nature of the objects of scientific knowing forms the pivot upon which

That...