The Public and its Problems PDF

The Public and its Problems PDF

Download The Public and its Problems PDF book free – From The Public and its Problems PDF: A classic in social and political philosophy. In his characteristic and provocative dialectic style, John Dewey clarifies the meaning and implications of such concepts as “the public,” “the state,” “government,” and “political democracy”; Buy from Amazon

The Public and its Problems PDF

distinguishes his a posteriori reasoning from a priori reasoning which, he argues, permeates less meaningful discussions of basic concepts; and repeatedly demonstrates the interrelationships between fact and theory. As in his other writings, Dewey exhibits his strong faith in the potential of human intelligence to solve the public’s problems.

Review – The Public and its Problems PDF

John Dewey’s book The Public and Its Problems is beautifully written and substantively powerful. Though an imperfect book, it can reasonably be described as a testimonial to Dewey’s genius as a student of social and political life. First published in 1927 and not one of Dewey’s better known books, it is astonishingly timely. The fundamental issues it raises are much the same as those which make life today so contentious, fragmented, and fraught with discord. Though Dewey never portrayed himself as a prophet or, to use a clumsy contemporary designation, a futurist, he has better claim to do so than any other Twentieth Century author known to me.The Public and its Problems PDF

Reading the Pubic and Its Problems can, nevertheless, be a demoralizing exercise precisely because Dewey deals with today’s most incendiary issues, but he does so in a way that makes today’s public discourse seem thoroughly retrograde. Dewey’s insights, while neither difficult to understand nor presupposing a particular brand of partisanship, have been lost, forgotten, or never learned. As a result, we butt heads and spit rhetorical venom in stupid — even meaningless — ways that get us nowhere. We’d be in much better shape if our views, different and diverse though they may be, were conditioned in light of Dewey’s contribution.

Much like his close colleague George Herbert Mead and other members of the Pragmatist school, Dewey gave priority to social factors in determining the kind of people we become and the nature of the world we share. He rejected the notion of the individual as existing apart from association with others, and posited that individuals, however rugged or distinctive they may be, emerged as a consequences of interaction with others. Unique individuals came forth as outcomes of specific and varying modes of social organization, and were thus provided with developmental resources that otherwise would have been out of their reach. Our primary tool for making our way in the world and contributing to shaping its nature is language, something that is necessarily socially learned and without which we would not be human. The Public and its Problems PDF

The notion of a public in the book’s title refers to an aggregate of individuals who are commonly disadvantaged by indirect effects generated by the purposeful, socially organized activities of others. Mountain top removal coal mining, for example, is a profitable means for large corporations with substantial mineral rights to recover bituminous coal. In some instances, however, this process releases otherwise dormant and unexposed noxious heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and selenium into streams flowing in valleys among the mountains. The Public and its Problems PDF

Those downstream who may rely on the water for consumption are thereby exposed to carcinogens and other contaminants not removed by conventional water treatment plants. Those adversely affected constitute a social aggregate that Dewey termed a public. If those in harm’s way recognize the shared nature of the threat, they may organize politically to forestall continuing pollution. In effect, a private problem of each member of the aggregate becomes a public issue with regard to which resources are collected and used more effectively in an organized public.

As this example suggests, there are virtually countless publics, some effectively organized and many more whose members are unaware that they constitute a public. Furthermore, in a world as technologically complex and economically developed as ours, all of us are members of many publics, each of greater or lesser awareness and concern. In the most useful sense, this is what modern political organization, including entities that we commonly refer to as government and the state, are all about: social organization that gives rise to institutions that address shared problems and thereby serve a common good.

Dewey was not naive, however, and he knew that this abstract set of circumstances did not effectively prevail. Nevertheless, he succeeded in making clear that patterns of association such as the state were not metaphysical manifestations of pure rationality or outcomes of divine intervention, as many had long held. Instead, they were prompted and shaped by prevailing conditions, products of the variegated character of the material and social world, and they embodied publics. The Public and its Problems PDF

In addition to creating a vast multiplicity of publics, however, our world has changed in ways that undercut the efficacy of organized publics and the institutions to which publics give rise. Economic development, especially through application of science-based technology, distributes us across a continent, filling specialized occupational roles, and severing the ties that bound us to traditional communities, places that once provided a strong sense of membership and face-to-face sharing of norms and values. Under these circumstances, the publics that crisscross and overlap all of us are weakened in much the same way as any social entity populated by strangers. It becomes increasingly difficult to identify and communicate with those who have common concerns. Democracy becomes a sterile, legalistic formality. Today, the most conspicuous process that indirectly generates social deracination and cultural dissipation is the brutally efficient globalization of capital.

As Dewey saw things, the physical sciences and the technology they yielded were remarkably well developed, but they were not balanced by concomitant developments in the social sciences. The latter disciplines remained pathetically devoid of insight and effective applications, meaning that they offered no antidote for adverse effects when traditional communities were rent asunder. The Public and its Problems PDF

As a result, while we are keenly aware of the differences among us, giving rise to vitriolic exchanges over every imaginable issue, we fail to see the overriding commonalities and shared interests which could unite us in a national semblance of a community. That we fail to see this is evident in social phenomena such as the red state/blue state dichotomy and our inability of break loose from political gridlock. That Dewey foresaw and understood the basis for pernicious developments such as this nearly ninety years ago attests to his thorough and conceptually original understanding of social and political life.

The Public and Its Problems is a brilliantly original analysis of an emerging pattern of social organization in which publics and the institutions they may foster are increasingly ineffective in providing a context where democracy is more than an empty slogan and where most of us feel adrift and ineffective.The Public and its Problems PDF

Dewey’s call for the the development of patterns of social organization that reproduce the effects of traditional face-to-face communities is best understood as a plea for the social sciences to drag themselves out of the Nineteenth Century and discover or invent patterns of association that would give our nation a genuinely communal character. That he was not optimistic is abundantly clear. Dewey gave us the conceptual tools to understand our circumstances, but mending their deep and numerous fractures and preventing further wreckage is not yet in the offing.

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About the Author

John Dewey (1859–1952) was one of the United States’ most influential political philosophers, defenders of democracy, and social and educational reformers. His many works encompass psychology, educational theory, and philosophy.


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