The term “soul” is found throughout John Dewey’s work, particularly when discussing self-realization and meaningfulness. Soul can be easily associated with religious connotations, and yet it is well accepted that he did not imply such. So, then, what did he mean? In his early writings, he shifted away from theologically inspired language and toward a conception composed in naturalized terms. This, no doubt, can be confusing to uninitiated readers. While extensive analyses have been written on his philosophy of spirit and metaphysics, they can leave one wondering: what is a conception of soul that is consistent with Dewey’s philosophy of experience and education, and how might it be made accessible to students in teacher preparation programs? The key for understanding this concept exists in his early work, but the characteristics need to be drawn out so they can be read more clearly into his later works. This article provides an analysis of (1) four of his early works and (2) scholarly explications on the subject in order to lay a framework for a Deweyan conception of soul as conceived within the individual, psycho-physiological makeup.
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Noël Smith, Becky L. and Hewitt, Randy
"Deweyan “Soul” as Conceived in His Early Work,"
Education and Culture: Vol. 38
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/eandc/vol38/iss2/art3
Available for download on Monday, October 05, 2026