Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summary of How Nature Thinks: John Dewey and the Unification of Phenomenology and Metaphysics

Here is a tentative outline of the book that I have been editing. It should be interesting for those interested in non-Husserlian and realist phenomenologies, non-Whiteheadian process metaphysics, emergent naturalism, aesthetics, and pragmatist thought in general. Most of my editing has been in a sizeable restructuring of the book to make it more accessible to a general audience and to pragmatist scholars who are not also phenomenologists in any sense or tradition.

Consider an outline of the book. Chapter One, “Introduction,” addresses the general problem of how intelligence and agency are possible if impulsivity and desire occur first and constitute them. Since unthinking impulse is the contrary of intelligence and agency, how could the latter arise from the former? Part of the solution requires systematizing Dewey’s unification of phenomenology and metaphysics to show how we become conscious of an encounter and establish cognitive control leading to intelligent behavior. I identify Dewey’s question-begging assumption, that impulsive desire is always in principle open to conscious control, and propose a creative solution that preserves the historic spirit of his thought while laying a foundation for contemporary applications. The chapter concludes with distinguishing Deweyan phenomenology from the Husserlian tradition of phenomenology, with which it has little similarity.

Chapters Two and Three, “The Metaphysics of Experience” and “The Embodied Mind,” introduce basic concepts in Deweyan metaphysics and phenomenology through exploring Thomas Alexander’s John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience & Nature: Horizons of Feeling. This includes explanations of Dewey’s theories of experience, continuity, situations, meaning, and the denotative-empirical method. Most importantly, the chapters explicate Alexander’s account of the “temporal teleological structure” of the “situation,” which is a particular interpretation of Deweyan temporality and emergent teleology that I will adopt and extend. Throughout the chapters, I exhibit the basics of Dewey’s non-Husserlian phenomenology and non-Whiteheadian process metaphysics.

Chapter Four, “,” re-introduces the general problem of establishing self-control over impulses through a detailed textual analysis of Dewey’s works on several topics: how “desire” as part of a process of valuation, what is “self-control” and how it is achieved, what is is a “choice” and how do we become aware of likely choices, and more. Progressing through the topics gives the reader a cumulative picture of the dilemma of wrestling real choices from unconscious impulses, while offering some provisional solutions. The chapter indicates the need for “idealization” of desire tat allows for the apprehension of unwitting inclinations.

Chapter Five, “The Methodological Thematization of Desire,” applies the interpretive framework developed in chapters two and three to the topics broached in chapter four. I revisit the provisional solutions of chapter four and refigure them within the earlier framework, and it is at this point that the book ceases to be an explication and commentary on historic scholarship and commences being a contemporary work.

Chapter Six, “Conclusion” discusses the implications. [I am going to rewrite this twenty-page conclusion.]

EDIT:
Below is the original table of contents for the manuscript. The section headings are informative. The "generic traits of existence" are Dewey's equivalent of universal descriptive categories.



CHAPTER 1 – Introduction........................................................................................... 1
            §1  Phenomenological Pragmatism.................................................................... 11
            §2  Summary.................................................................................................. 14
            §3  Conclusion................................................................................................. 23
CHAPTER 2 – Review of Literature............................................................................ 25
            §1  Melvin Rogers' Phenomenological Reading of Dewey................................ 27
            §2  Bruce Wilshire and the Problem of Thematization..................................... 34
            §3  Raymond Boisvert and the Necessity of Tragic Blindness......................... 39
            §4  James Gouinlock and Seeing Limitation as Limitation................................ 41
            §5  James Gouinlock on Desire, Intelligence, and Freedom.............................. 43
CHAPTER 3 – The Aesthetic of Experience............................................................... 50
            §1  The Metaphysics of Experience................................................................. 52
              historic criticism reveals three issues.............................................................. 53
              the postulate of immediate empiricism........................................................... 55
              the generic traits of existence........................................................................ 61
              the principle of continuity.............................................................................. 68
              the theory of situations................................................................................... 72
              conclusion..................................................................................................... 81
            §2  The Embodied Mind................................................................................... 83
              the act as the unit of meaning........................................................................ 84
              the reflex arc concept in psychology.............................................................. 85
              the relation of emotion and impulse................................................................ 93
              the habitual body and structure of action....................................................... 98
              synoptic summary........................................................................................ 103
              conclusion................................................................................................... 108
CHAPTER 4 – The Methodological Thematization of Desire.................................. 115
            §1  Dewey’s Theory of Objects..................................................................... 118
            §2  A Method for Controlling Desire.............................................................. 124
            §3  Dewey’s Theory of Desire....................................................................... 132
            §4  Dewey’s Theory of Emotion.................................................................... 144
            §5  The Methodological Thematization of Felt Emotion................................ 154
            §6  The Temporality of Conscious Desire and Its Thematization................. 161
            §7  The Interpretation of Desire..................................................................... 174
            §8  Conclusion............................................................................................... 180


No comments:

Post a Comment

There was an error in this gadget