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Dewey's Democratic Individualism - Essay Example

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Summary to essay on topic "Dewey's Democratic Individualism"
In "Individualism Old and New" and "Freedom and Culture", John Dewey gives a definition of a new Democratic Individualism, which should be based on the current conditions in American society. According to Dewey, American individualism is at present state in service of pecuniary profit…
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Download file "Dewey's Democratic Individualism" to see previous pages... Even crime is becoming corporate. What happens nowadays is that "these corporations [effect] a change of social life from an individual to corporate affair." Reactions of the individual and society as a whole to this change are manifold: they affect the psychological, professional, and political sphere.
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According to Dewey, "they affect the working ideas, beliefs and conduct of all of us."
However there is a split within individual and in a society, and most specifically-the split within the new business mind. The split comes about because "the results of industry.. are corporate and collective" while the inner motives are private and individual. Dewey calls resolution to this state "a law of mental integrity"; this will come about when inner motives become concerned with corporate goals-that is to say, shared goals.
Dewey says: "When the corporateness becomes internal, that is, it is realized in thought and purpose, it will become qualitative Law will be realized not as a rule arbitrarily imposed from without but as the relations which hold individuals
together." According to Dewey, these two statements are closely connected with essential question pertaining to individuality: the need for a new theory and new morals which would explain human nature and its connection to society in these new economic conditions. This would be the basis of democracy in current American society.
Dewey states that "Dewey states that "[a]ssured and integrated individuality is the product of definite social relationships and publicly acknowledged functions." These relationships being established, as well as the public acknowledgment of the role of different human endeavors within a current society, the split of the business mind would be healed. There needs to be "some consensus of belief as to the meaning of finance and industry in civilization as a whole". This would supply a sense of meaning to the business mind and its importance within a society.
Dewey further analyzes this social and individual split. What is lacking as a reward for achieving one's ends, (the reward presently being financial profit), is a sense of social fulfillment. Social fulfillment of individuals is a key factor in new democracy. The current standards of value are "derived from pecuniary success and economic prosperity". This is not enough for individual fulfillment, as human beings need a sense of solidarity and participation. This then implies shared and common values.
The essential trait of human nature, according to American tradition, is love of liberty, but Dewey wonders if men would surrender their liberties in the name of solidarity, with the sense of union that it entails and respect by others it provides.
What is needed is new psychological and moral theories to explain human nature,

and which are in accordance with society at present and its corporateness.
Culture is another important element of new democracy. For political freedom, freedom of culture is essential: "positive conditions, forming the prevailing state of culture, are required". Everybody should share in enjoyment of the arts. Culture is extremely important because it determines the patterns of behavior of any given group in a specific period-as proved by recent anthropological findings. It also puts a new spin on the problem of relation of the individual to the social -as it defines current customs, rules, traditions, and institutions. Dewey ...Download file "Dewey's Democratic Individualism" to see next pagesRead More
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