New PDF release: Liberalism and Social Action. The Page-Barbour Lectures

By John Dewey

In this ebook America’s most suitable thinker defines his monetary and political position.
Dewey starts off this exposition of his so much mature political perspectives by way of tracing the old improvement of liberalism from John Locke via Adam Smith, Bentham and the turbines. He observes the enduring worth of liberalism—of liberty, of individuality, and of the loose use of intelligence. yet he criticises present-day liberal formula of those rules and enumerates the explanations for their irrelevancy to the fiscal and polit­ical difficulties of the present.
The concluding element of the publication exhibits the street which liberalism needs to take in order to recuperate its his­toric energy. The targets of liberalism, Dewey pronounces, require an association of monetary components for their awareness; yet he espouses prepared intelligence, deprecates reliance upon violence, and adversely ex­amines the Marxist or Fascist doctrines of revolution.

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Such a social order cannot be established by an unplanned and external convergence o f the actions o f separate individuals, each o f whom is bent on per­ sonal private advantage. This idea is the Achilles heel o f early liberalism. The idea that liberalism cannot maintain its ends and at the same time reverse its con­ ception o f the means by which they are to be attained is folly. The ends can now be achieved only by reversal o f the means to which early liberalism was CommittedOrganized social planning, put into effect fox, the, crea- S O C IA L A C T I O N 55 tion o f an order in which industry and finance are socially directed in behalf o f institutions tKat provide the material hasis fo r the cultural lihpratinn ancLgTQWth o f individuals, is now the sole method o f social action by which liberalism can realize its professed aims.

It is not that liberalism creates the need, but that the necessity for adjustment defines the office o f liberalism. 50 LIBERALISM AND For the only adjustment that does not have to be made over again, and perhaps even under more un­ favorable circumstances than when it was first attempted, is that effected through intelligence as a method. In its large sense, this remaking of thejnld through union with the n ew js precisely what intelligence is. It is conversion o f past experience into knowledge and projection o f that knowledge in ideas and purposes that anticipate what may come to be in the future and that indicate how to realize what is desired.

It is the psychological laws o f this isolated human nature from which social laws are * The quotations are from M ill’s Logic, Book VI, chs. vii and ix. S O C IA L A C T I O N 41 derived and into which they may be resolved. His own illustration o f water in its difference from hydrogen and oxygen on separation might have taught him better, i f it had not been for the influence o f a prior dogma. That the human infant is modified in mind and character by his connection with others in fam ily life and that the modification continues throughout life as his con­ nections with others broaden, is as true as that hydrogen is modified when it combines with oxygen.

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Liberalism and Social Action. The Page-Barbour Lectures by John Dewey


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