Dewey in Spanish. John Dewey, La opinion publica y sus problemas (Spanish Translation of _The Public and Its Problems_). [Book Review]

Education and Culture 22 (1):51-54 (2006)
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With Spanish the third most widely spoken language in the world, one would expect more Spanish translations of important texts in American philosophy. Given the recent publication of a Spanish translation of The Public and Its Problems (1927), more people have access to John Dewey’s ideas about democracy than ever before. A broader readership might bring greater inclusivity to the existing debate over the significance of Dewey’s legacy for democratic theory. For the past few years, this debate has raged almost exclusively between English-speaking scholars. Many have responded to the arguments of Richard Posner, the law professor and Circuit Court judge who delivered a scathing critique of Dewey’s legacy in his book Law, Pragmatism and Democracy (2003). Even if new readers of The Public and Its Problems fail to join the debate, they will at least be better equipped to evaluate Posner’s arguments with some appreciation for the object of his criticism. Hopefully they will come to acknowledge Dewey’s contribution as a vital thread in the tapestry of thought making up contemporary currents in democratic theory—currents that University of Toronto professor Frank Cunningham collectively labels “democratic pragmatism.” See his Theories of Democracy (Routledge, 2002). Ramon Del Castillo’s introduction to the translation captures the rich context of Dewey’s work on democratic theory. It places the book in the proper historical milieu, 1920s America at the time of the height and decline of American Progressivism. It also juxtaposes The Public and Its Problems against Lippmann’s two earlier works, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925).

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Shane Ralston
University of Ottawa (PhD)


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