The Meaninglessness of Coming Unstuck in Time

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The views of John Dewey and Kurt Vonnegut are often criticized for opposite reasons: Dewey’s philosophy is said to be naively optimistic while Vonnegut’s work is read as cynical. The standard debates over the views of the two thinkers cause readers to overlook the similarities in the way each approaches tragic experience. This paper examines Dewey’s philosophic account of time and meaning and Vonnegut’s use of time travel in his autobiographical novel Slaughterhouse-Five to illustrate these similarities. This essay demonstrates how both Dewey and Vonnegut embrace the ameliorative possibilities of art for preserving individuality and meaning in the face of tragic experience.
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First archival date: 2017-08-04
Latest version: 2 (2017-08-04)
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