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Dewey on the Brain: Dopamine, Digital Devices, and Democracy

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image of Contemporary Pragmatism

Central to Dewey’s treatment of the nervous system throughout his work is its import for ameliorative action. Dewey’s theory of mentation has its origins in his early thought in which he draws on contemporary physics and biology to incorporate the nascent understanding of the nervous system. This interdisciplinary approach continues through his career. After selectively reviewing Dewey’s remarks about brains and nervous systems, I apply his ameliorative theory of mind and brain to our contemporary situation in which our digital devices work against the energetic focusing that Dewey saw as integral to healthy nervous system function. I consider the threat of what Tschaepe calls dopamine democracy and reflect on whether neuropragmatism is able to meet that challenge.

Affiliations: 1: Independent Scholar


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