Hui Xie


In light of decades of formal denouncement of Deweyan ideas in China and the increasingly authoritarian practices under its current leadership, the recent revival of engagement with Dewey’s work among Chinese educators and intellectuals appears extraordinary as well as paradoxical. How is it possible that a project as ardently democratic as Dewey’s could gain popularity (and potential sustainability) in what appears to be a consistently nondemocratic regime? As we celebrate the centennial of Dewey’s visit to China and the substantial resurgence of his philosophy there, the trajectory of these promising signs cannot be determined without also digging into the enigma embedded within the current paradox. This paper explores and resolves this paradox by drawing upon Dewey’s concept of democracy to evaluate China’s state of affairs in democratic terms. I argue that Dewey presents an alternative that illuminates not only the democratic elements currently in China, but also the ground for an intercultural dialogue on democracy from which China and other countries may benefit in this global age.

Available for download on Saturday, June 24, 2023