Is John Dewey's Thought "Humanist"?

Nathan Snaza


This paper proposes that John Dewey’s thought is not entirely humanist, and that a dehumanist reconstruction of his philosophy opens curriculum studies toward a pragmatic, democratic engagement with the uncountable nonhumans that share the earth with those who think of themselves as “human.” The essay outlines what is meant by both humanism and dehumanism before analyzing how a cluster of keywords in Deweyan thought—habit, experience, growth, and democracy—can be put to use in ways that are not anthropocentric or exclusively human. By arguing that Dewey’s humanism (which has been taken for granted in much Deweyan scholarship) can be extracted from his potentially nonhumanist conceptualizations of democracy and pedagogy, the essay claims that Dewey’s thought can prove a pragmatic point of departure for dehumanist curriculum studies, and that Deweyan pragmatics offer nonhumanist philosophy a set of concepts for better understanding what a democracy of humans, nonhuman animals, and inhuman objects could be. 


John Dewey Educational philosophy Dehumanism Curriculum Studies Democracy

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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