RE: [xmca] Being and Knowing

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 13:38:30 PST

Hmmmm... great quote. Sounds like something Dewey would say in response
to Russell, or considering that it was in Experience and Nature perhaps
the new realists. I think Dewey was really pushing the idea at this
time that we can't really know that which is outside of our experience,
and that experience precedes cognition (maybe that cognition is a
sub-category of experience). One of the things I thought about reading
this quote was that Dewey seems to have anticipated (by what, fifty
years) that whole brouhaha brought about by the learning paradox. The
people pushing the learning paradox make the claim that we can't think
about things in the world without first having some understanding of
them - claiming that there must be some innate understanding of the
world. I think it has been discussed on this list before and don't
really look to open a can of worms. But Dewey seems to be saying that
of course it is right that we can't think about things in the world
without first knowing about them - but knowing is part of experience
that precedes the actual thinking about the objects - so we get our
initial understanding of things from experiencing them pre-cognitively
and that is the reason we are able to reflect on them.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 4:10 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Being and Knowing

Matt Brown gave an interesting talk at LCHC today in the course of which
idea of "pre-cognitive" experience
came up. We discussed for a while what this might mean. Matt sent the
following interesting set of thoughts from
Dewey in response. They seemed relevant to xmca. My apologies if they
are a

I leave you with the following quote from _Experience and Nature_:

[Empirical method] indicates that *being* and *having* things in ways
other than knowing them, in ways never identical with knowing them,
exist, and are preconditions of reflection and knowledge. *Being*
angry, stupid, wise, inquiring; *having* sugar, the light of day,
money, houses and lands, friends, laws, masters, subjects, pain and
joy, occur in dimensions incommensurable to knowing these things
which we are and have and use, and which have and use us. Their
existence is unique, and, strictly speaking, indescribable; they can
*only be* and be *had*, and then be pointed to in reflection. In the
proper sense of the word, their existence is absolute, being
qualitative. All cognitive experience must start from and must
terminate in being and having things in just such unique, irreparable
and compelling ways. (LW 1:378)
xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Apr 01 2007 - 01:00:11 PST