Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rewritten Introduction To My Book


I decided that the introductory paragraph of my book lacked clarity and punch.  Below is a draft of what is replacing it.  It concerns valuation, process metaphysic, and realistic and naturalistic phenomenology that is not Husserlian.



John Dewey’s theories of valuation, experience, and inquiry are contradictory because they share a fundamental flaw.  Dewey insists that our impulses, interests, and motivations, are always available for reflective analysis, evaluation, and amelioration (cite).  He is both wrong and inconsistent on the matter.  By his own theories, desire is not always ideational, and therefore our deepest impulses, momentary interests, and true motivations may evade reflective recuperation.  Admitting fallibility is not a solution, especially when the opaqueness of desire to thought is structurally necessary.  Dewey fails to confront the problem, which positions him to commit the hubris of technocratic thinking villified by Reinhold Niebhur.

Most extant scholarship either denies (Lekan or other guy), avoids (Hickman, most everyone), or dances around the issue (debate on Dewey and tragedy).  The scholars who address it (Boisvert, Stuhr, Wilshire, etc.) do not fix the problem.  The few who address it suffer a scholarly backlash (Gouinlock—conservative, Kestenbaum—accused of radical re-reading, Lachs vs. Stroud) unless they do so by extending Dewey’s work rather than directly critiquing it (Alexander per cultural naturalism, Schusterman per somaestehtics, Stuhr)

My goal is to rehabilitate Dewey’s theories of valuation, experience, and inquiry by excising the flaw.  Doing so requires answering the following question.  How is desire presented to thought so as to become meaningful, and how do we achieve reflective control over desire?  My answer builds upon prior scholarship, especially Gouinlock, Alexander, and Kestenbaum, to yield a Deweyan theory of the conscious representation of desire.  Given this theory, I reinterpret and rehabilitate Dewey’s method for the the first-person reflective control of desire given in the 1932 Ethics and perfected in Theory of Valuation.  In the process, I will achieve two goals that surpass resolving the flaw and render this work to be of great interest beyond Dewey scholars.  First, I will unify Dewey’s theories of habit, quality, and experience through interpreting his thought as thoroughly processional.  Second, and building on the first, I will offer a preliminary realistic and naturalistic phenomenology that is completely independent of Husserl and his heirs.

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