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Re: [xmca] Dewey, culture, experience (w/o extra line breaks)

Here's the text again, without the extra line breaks:

lw.1.361 Were I to write (or rewrite) Experience and Nature today I would entitle the book Culture and Nature and the treatment of specific subject-matters would be correspondingly modified. I would abandon the term "experience" because of my growing realization that the historical obstacles which prevented understanding of my use of "experience" are, for all practical purposes, insurmountable. I would substitute the term "culture" because with its meanings as now firmly established it can fully and freely carry my philosophy of experience. lw.1.361 I am not convinced that the task I undertook was totally misguided. I still believe that on theoretical, as distinct from historical, grounds there is much to be said in favor of using "experience" to designate the inclusive subject-matter which characteristically "modern" (post-medieval) philosophy breaks [Page lw.1.362] up into the dualisms of subject and object, mind and the world, psychological and physical. If "experience" is to designate the inclusive subject-matter it must designate both what is experienced and the ways of experiencing it. lw.1.362 There is, assuredly, nothing novel in holding that philosophy is distinguished from other intellectual or cognitive undertakings by the comparative comprehensiveness of its subject-matter; nor is it innovative to maintain that a linguistic expression is needed to name philosophy's singular distinction. But by an ironical twist of events which I failed to comprehend, the theoretical grounds that can be cited for using "experience" as the needed name are historically identical with the obstacles that effectively stand in the way of the name being understood in the senses I intended. lw.1.362 The historical obstacles are now so conspicuous that I can at times but wonder how they came to be overlooked. There was a period in modern philosophy when the appeal to "experience" was a thoroughly wholesome appeal to liberate philosophy from desiccated abstractions. But I failed to appreciate the fact that subsequent developments inside and outside of philosophy had corrupted and destroyed the wholesomeness of the appeal--that "experience" had become effectively identified with experiencing in the sense of the psychological, and the psychological had become established as that which is intrinsically psychical, mental, private. My insistence that "experience" also designates what is experienced was a mere ideological thundering in the Index for it ignored the ironical twist which made this use of "experience" strange and incomprehensible. lw.1.362 The name "culture" in its anthropological (not its Matthew Arnold) sense designates the vast range of things experienced in an indefinite variety of ways. It possesses as a name just that body of substantial references which "experience" as a name has lost. It names artifacts which rank as "material" and operations upon and with material things. The facts named by "culture" also include the whole body of beliefs, attitudes, dispositions which are scientific and "moral" and which as a matter of cultural fact decide the specific uses to which the "material" constituents of culture are put and which accordingly deserve, philosophically speaking, the name "ideal" (even the name "spiritual," if intelligibly used).
[Page lw.1.363]
lw.1.363 It is a prime philosophical consideration that "culture" includes the material and the ideal in their reciprocal interrelationships and (in marked contrast with the prevailing use of "experience") "culture" designates, also in their reciprocal interconnections, that immense diversity of human affairs, interests, concerns, values which compartmentalists pigeonhole under "religion" "morals" "aesthetics" "politics" "economics" etc., etc. Instead of separating, isolating and insulating the many aspects of a common life, "culture" holds them together in their human and humanistic unity--a service which "experience" has ceased to render. What "experience" now fails to do and "culture" can successfully do for philosophy is of utmost importance if philosophy is to be comprehensive without becoming stagnant.»3 lw.1.363 Culture "comprises inherited artifacts, goods, technical processes, ideas, habits, values. Social organization cannot be really understood except as a part of culture." Even this brief quotation indicates the inclusive or comprehensive summarizing of the conditions and aspects of human life designated by the word. Artifacts include habitations, temples and their rituals, weapons, paraphernalia, tools, implements, means of transportation, roads, clothing, decorations and ornamentations, etc., etc. They, together with the technical processes involved in their use, constitute the "material aspect of culture." But then follows the significant statement: "The material equipment of culture is not, however, a force in itself. Knowledge is necessary in the production, management and use of artifacts . . . and is essentially connected with mental and moral discipline, of which religion, laws and ethical rules are the ultimate source. The handling and possession of goods imply also the appreciation of their value." The kind of cooperation involved in production of goods and the common modes of enjoyment of the products "are always based on a definite type of social organization." In short, "material culture requires a complement . . . consisting of the body of intellectual knowledge, of the system of moral, spiritual, and economic values, of social organization and of language." lw.1.363 The intimate connection of philosophical systems with culture is further clarified by the fact that "the formation of sentiments [Page lw.1.364] and thus of values is always based on the cultural apparatus in a society," the sentiments and values defining man's attitudes "toward the realities of his magical, religious or metaphysical Weltanschauung." And while I cannot dwell upon its implications here, I cannot refrain from quoting the statement that "Culture is at the same time psychological and collective."»4

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education
NEWARK  DE  19716


"those who fail to reread
 are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                  -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)
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