When I was asked to give the John Dewey Lecture, I considered it a marvelous opportunity to return to my intellectual roots, for I started my philosophic career by writing my dissertation on John Dewey. "Return" is not quite the appropriate expression, for everything that I've written since the early 1950s has been infused and informed by the spirit of Dewey, and more generally what I take to be best and most enduring in the pragmatic tradition. I know all too well that for a long time Dewey has been considered rather passe, a fuzzy-minded thinker who perhaps had his heart in the right place, but not his head. And there are those who still think that Dewey is the source of the ills that have plagued American education. I think this is a slander. More boldly, I believe that Dewey and the pragmatic thinkers are not only not passe, but that they were really ahead of their times. What I see happening now is a re-emergence of pragmatic themes. It is almost as if the dialectic of contemporary philosophy in its diverse modes keeps leading us back to the point of departure for the pragmatic thinkers. Dewey was never more relevant than he is today—in helping us to gain some perspective, some orientation on our extremely confused and chaotic cultural condition. This is the thesis that I want to explore with you.
Bernstein, Richard J.
"The Varieties of Pluralism,"
Education and Culture:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/eandc/vol05/iss1/art2