John Dewey

On this date in 1859, educator and philosopher John Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont. He earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in 1884. After teaching philosophy at the University of Michigan, he joined the University of Chicago as head of a department in philosophy, psychology and education, influenced by Darwin, Freud and a scientific outlook. He joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1904. Dewey's special concern was reform of education. He promoted learning by doing rather than learning by rote. Dewey conducted international research on education, winning many academic honors worldwide. Of more than 40 books, many of his most influential concerned education, including My Pedagogic Creed (1897), Democracy and Education (1902) and Experience and Education (1938). He was one of the founders of the philosophy of pragmatism. A humanitarian, he was a trustee of Jane Addams' Hull House, supported labor and racial equality, and was at one time active in campaigning for a third political party. He chaired a commission convened in Mexico City in 1937 inquiring into charges made against Leon Trotsky during the Moscow trials. Raised by an evangelical mother, Dewey had rejected faith by his 30s. Although he disavowed being a "militant" atheist, when his mother complained that he should be sending his children to Sunday school, he replied that he had gone to Sunday School enough to make up for any truancy by his children. As a pragmatist, he judged ideas by the results they produced. As a philosopher, he eschewed an allegiance to fixed and changeless dogma and superstition. He belonged to humanist societies, including the American Humanist Association. D. 1952.

" . . . have not some religions, including the most influential forms of Christianity, taught that the heart of man is totally corrupt? How could the course of religion in its entire sweep not be marked by practices that are shameful in their cruelty and lustfulness, and by beliefs that are degraded and intellectually incredible? What else than what we can find could be expected, in the case of people having little knowledge and no secure method of knowing; with primitive institutions, and with so little control of natural forces that they lived in a constant state of fear?"
 

—— John Dewey in "The Religious in Experience," chapter 20 of Intelligence in the Modern World; John Dewey's Philosophy (1939)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.