Friday, August 07, 2009

Fairfield, Paul. Review of Melvin L. Rogers' THE UNDISCOVERED DEWEY. NDPR (August 2009).

Rogers, Melvin L. The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy. New York: Columbia UP, 2008. This book promises a great deal. As the title indicates, it is nothing short of a previously "undiscovered Dewey" -- undiscovered, that is, by the existing scholarship -- that Melvin Rogers wishes to present, a claim that he realizes "may seem a bit cavalier" to some readers (ix). It indeed seems that way to this reader, given the number of important studies of Dewey that have appeared in recent years, many of which Rogers mentions and from which he wishes to distinguish his account. Dewey scholarship has come rather a long way in the last couple of decades, as Rogers well realizes, yet his preface announces, "This book offers a new perspective on the foundations of John Dewey's philosophy and so tilts our understanding of his religious, ethical, and political reflections in a novel direction" (ix). One might question just how new that perspective is. For my part, I did not come away from this text with a very different understanding of Dewey than before. Notwithstanding, Rogers has given us a very competent and often subtle reading of Dewey that well deserves the attention of Dewey scholars. What is the undiscovered Dewey? It is, Rogers argues, a reading of Dewey that makes his indebtedness to Darwinian biology more explicit than hitherto and identifies some implications of that influence. . . . Read the rest here:

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