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Between Darwin and Hegel: On Dewey’s Concept of Experience

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“Experience” is so central to Dewey’s philosophy that one must, first of all, understand what he means by the term. Diverging from the traditional conception of experience, Dewey’s understanding involves two dimensions, namely, naturalism and historicism; in this, it can be seen as the unification of Darwinism and Hegelianism. Without attending to its dimension of naturalism, one would ignore experience’s basic character, namely that of receptivity, while without attending to the aspect of historicism, one would ignore experience’s dimension of meaning, its character of spontaneity. Dewey’s notion of experience is unique. Its true value can be seen more clearly in comparison with the conceptions of experience advanced by Quine and McDowell.

Affiliations: 1: School of Philosophy, Fudan University


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