Frank X. Ryan. Seeing Together: Mind, Matter, and the Experimental Outlook of John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley. [Book Review]

The Pluralist 8 (1):124-129 (2013)
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In the past twenty years, scholarly interest in John Dewey's later writings has surged. While later works such as Art as Experience (1934), Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938), and Freedom and Culture (1939) have received considerable attention, Knowing and the Known (1949), Dewey's late-in-life collaboration with Arthur F. Bentley, has been largely neglected. A common bias among Dewey scholars is that this work, instead of developing Dewey's Logic, departs from its spirit, reflects the overbearing influence of Bentley on Dewey (who was at the time an octogenarian), and, therefore, merits little serious scholarly consideration. However, Dewey and Bentley engaged in an extended correspondence, collected in John Dewey and Arthur Bentley: A Philosophical Correspondence, 1932-1951 (1964), the result of which was no less than a watershed moment in Dewey's thinking on the experimental method of inquiry. The Logic was improved in ways that incorporated the insights of Charles Sanders Peirce's logic and developed Dewey's earlier work in a direction expressly intended by the aging pragmatist. Indeed, Dewey writes in correspondence with his co-author: "You [Bentley] shouldn't lean too heavily on the [1938] Logic; it wasn't a bad job at the time, but I could do better now [with Knowing and the Known]; largely through association with you and getting the courage to see my thing [logical theory] through without compromise" (Correspondence, 4:595, see also 184, 420, 481, 483-84). One of the few scholars of American pragmatism to acknowledge that Knowing and the Known was a watershed development in Dewey's thinking is Frank X. Ryan, author of an exciting new book, Seeing Together: Mind, Matter, and the Experimental Outlook of John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley, that clearly and concisely presents the revolutionary method developed in Knowing and Known: the transactional approach.

Author's Profile

Shane Ralston
University of Ottawa (PhD)


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