Re: [xmca] Being and Knowing

From: michael boatright (
Date: Mon Mar 12 2007 - 14:00:21 PST

How would the following quote from an earlier Dewey text dovetail with these
ruminations? "Ruminations" can also mean 'the process of chewing cud.'

"An ounce of experience is better than a ton of theory simply because it is
only in experience that any theory has vital and verifiable significance"
(Dewey, 1916/1985, p. 151).

Dewey, J. (1985). Democracy and education. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), P. R.
Baysinger & B. Levine (Assoc. Textual Eds.), John Dewey: The middle works,
1899-1924. Vol. 9: Democracy and education, 1916. Carbondale, IL: Southern
Illinois University Press. (Original work published 1916)

On 3/12/07, Michael Glassman <> wrote:
> 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.
> Michael
> -----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
> the
> 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
> nuiscance.
> mike
> 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)
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