Compile a list of the most famous Vermonters, and philosopher and education reformer John Dewey would certainly be in the top ten. Born in Burlington October 20, 1859, Dewey has been described as America’s greatest philosopher and its leading educational theorist. His work continues to be a source of insight for educational reformers, and his influence in philosophy has expanded exponentially in recent decades.
His life and ideas are the theme for the inaugural conference of the New England Pragmatist Forum, “The Philosophy of John Dewey,” October 15-17 at Green Mountain College. Fifteen scholars from across the U.S. and Canada will converge on the Poultney campus for two days of public presentations and conversations about Dewey’s influence and legacy.
“Dewey is the most cited academic philosopher of the twentieth century, and he made, arguably, the most significant contribution to the development of educational thinking in the twentieth century,” said prof. Steven Fesmire (philosophy), author of the recent book Dewey, published in the Routledge Philosophers series.
“Dewey approached philosophy as a practical necessity for interpreting, evaluating, criticizing, and redirecting culture. But it can also degenerate into a form of theater, a complacent professional identity, or an esoteric form of verbal conquest. Philosophy matters, for Dewey, when it helps us to deal with shared difficulties and when it extends and deepens our most worthwhile experiences.”
The keynote speaker on Friday, October 16 is Peter Godfrey-Smith (City University of New York Graduate Center) from 11 a.m.-noon in the East Room (Withey Hall). His presentation is titled “Dewey and Anti-Representationalism.” In the closing plenary Saturday, October 17, Cheryl Misak (University of Toronto) and Catharine Wells on (Boston College) will explore the authority of law in light of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Dewey.
The conference bookseller, Hermit Hill Books on 95 Main Street in Poultney, will have a book exhibit (Thurs. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. 10-6 a.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Books from many presenters will be available for perusal and purchase.
For a complete program listing see this schedule.