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“A Deaf Spectator in the Back Row” John Dewey

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1 “A Deaf Spectator in the Back Row” John Dewey
“They are different ways of construing life.” (Political Science 110EB)

2 Essays HARD COPY due in class, Thursday, May 3 5-7 pages
Prompts posted at course website:

3 Essays 1. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln describes American democracy as “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Lippmann describes such thinking as “a false ideal.” (p. 29) Is Lippmann’s argument regarding the roles of the citizen and the public persuasive? Why or why not? Respond with reference to at least two authors in addition to Lippmann. 2. Agree, disagree, or modify the following statement. Respond with reference to at least two authors in addition to Lippmann.  Among the authors assigned in the course so far, only Lippmann dismisses ‘monist’ concepts of society as false, saying that there is no such thing as a unified society or public. Nonetheless, conflict within the United States features centrally in the thinking of many of the other authors. In this way, they provide unambiguous support for Lippmann’s position.

4 Essays 3. Agree, disagree, or modify the following statement.
While they each approach the question of how the state ought to respond to economic changes from different starting points, Bryan, Roosevelt, and Debs are in broad agreement on what needs to be done. 4. Agree, disagree, or modify the following statement. Whatever their other differences, Lincoln, Douglass, and Roosevelt fundamentally agree on what America is and what it means to be an American.

5 Essays 5. What are the fundamental differences between the thought of Lippmann and Dewey? What would the consequences of these differences be if their ideas were put into practice?

6 Essays Your paper must have: A thesis statement
One to three sentences, in the first paragraph Clearer is better. Thesis should be argumentative: “In this paper I will discuss the causes of the Civil War.” -- NOT a thesis statement. “Slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War.” -- Acceptable. “The primary cause of the Civil War was slavery, which produced economic, political, and moral conflicts between North and South that ultimately could not be resolved by peaceful means.” -- Better.

7 Essays Double spaced Page numbers Paragraphs.
5 page minimum, less will count against grade Paragraphs. Seriously, you have to have paragraphs. Also, no swearing or text abbreviations. For heaven’s sake, people. Citations Ok to cite lecture. Refer to it by lecture number Best to show you’ve done the reading by citing parts of text not quoted in lecture MUST cite & quote the texts appropriate to your chosen prompt. Use embedded citations, like this (Lippmann, 119) or (Stephens, Cornerstone Speech).

8 Essays Standard margins, font size, line spacing, etc.
Your grader was an undergraduate once, he knows about Courier New and big margins. While grammar is not a major element in your grades, it does matter. If your I don’t understand what you’re saying, I don’t understand what you’re saying. Papers MUST be submitted to

9 Lippmann “A false ideal of democracy can only lead to disillusionment and to meddlesome tyranny. If democracy cannot direct affairs, then a philosophy which expects it to direct them will encourage the people to attempt the impossible; they will fail, but that will interfere outrageously with the productive liberties of the individual. The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd.” (145)

10 “The necessity for an ‘undivided mass’ makes men put truth in the second place.
I do not wish to claim that the necessity is often a real one.” “The mischief comes in the pretense that all is being told, that the public is entirely in the confidence of the public man. And that mischief has its source in the sophistry that the public and all the individuals composing it are one mind, one soul, one purpose.” “We are most reluctant to admit that there is room in the world for different and more or less separate purposes.” This “monistic theory” leads to a situation in which “each special interest is forever proclaiming itself the voice of the people and attempting to impose its purpose upon everybody as the purpose of all mankind.” ( )

11 “To this confusion this confusion liberalism has with the kindest intentions profited greatly. Its main insight was into the prejudices of the individual” Interest Passions Limited epistemological perspective “It was an amazing an unsettling revelation, and liberalism never quite knew what to do with it.” Persuaded of the idea that it was illegitimate to recognize difference within society, “liberals refused to write different parts for the violinist and the drummer. They made instead a noble appeal to their highest instincts. They spoke over the heads of men to man.” ( )

12 “These general appeals were as vague as they were broad
“These general appeals were as vague as they were broad. They gave particular men no clue as to how to behave sincerely, but they furnished them with an excellent masquerade when they behaved arbitrarily.” “It cannot say: You do this and you do that, as all ruling philosophies must. It can only say: That isn’t fair, that’s selfish, that’s tyrannical. Liberalism has been, therefore, a defender of the under dog, and his liberator, but not his guide, when he is free. Top dog himself, he easily leaves his liberalism aside, and to liberals the sour reflection that they have forged a weapon of release but not a way of life.” ( )

13 “The liberals have misunderstood the nature of the public to which they appealed.”
It’s only those people concerned, not all of humanity “His appeal to this cosmopolitan, universal, disinterested intuition in everybody which was equivalent to an appeal to nobody.” Who, exactly, is the “human”? Other political philosophies have assumed “as a matter of course, that in the struggle against evil it was necessary to call upon some specific agent to do the work.” “It is the individuals who act, not society [...] It is their relations with each other which constitute a society. And it is about the ordering of those relations that the individuals not executively concerned in a specific disorder may have public opinions and may intervene as a public.” ( )

14 “The practical effect of the monistic theories of society has been to rationalize that vast concentrating of political and economic power in the midst of which we live.” If society is a single entity, why should it not speak with one voice? As society grows more complex, the impulse to expand administration and control larger numbers of variable from a central point grows “This need has bred an imperious tendency to organization on a large scale” in all interest groups “It has entailed perpetual effort to bring more and more men under the same law and custom, and then, of course, to assume control of the lawmaking and law-enforcing machinery in this larger area.” ( )

15 The effect has been to concentrate decision in central offices, remote from the governed and the conditions of their lives Politics & economics “Whether this concentration of power is good or bad, permanent or passing, this at least is certain.” “Even if they conscientiously regard themselves as agents or trustees, it is pure fiction to say that they are carrying out the will of the people. They may govern the people wisely. They are not governing with the active consultation of the people.” This widening difference has eroded the discipline of public opinion which earlier democratic theorists relied Tocqueville & the township ( )

16 Lippmann’s theory regards citizens as “agents of special purpose, without pretense and without embarrassment. They must live in a world with men who have other special purposes.” “The adjustments which must be made are society, and the best society is the one in which men have purposes which they can realize with the least frustration.” “It is the pursuit of their special affairs that they are most interested in. It is by the private labors of individuals that life is enhanced. I set not great store on what can be done by public opinion and the action of masses.” ( )

17 John Dewey 1859-1952 Political & educational theorist “Pragmatism”
Education & human malleability

18 Philosophy & Democracy
Philosophical differences are “differences in standpoint, outlook and ideal. They manifest not diversities of intellectual emphasis so much as incompatibilities of temperament and expectation. They are different ways of construing life.” “The philosophies embodied not colorless intellectual readings of reality, but men’s most passionate desires and hopes, their basic beliefs about the sort of life to be lived. They started not from science, not from ascertained knowledge, but from moral convictions and the best intellectual methods of their day to give form to what was essentially an attitude of will [...] and the wish to persuade other men that this was a wise way of living.” (38-39)

19 “Institutions customs of life, breed certain systematized predilections and aversions. The wise man reads historic philosophies to detect in them intellectual formulations of men’s habitual purposes and cultivated wants, not to gain insight into the ultimate nature of things or information about the nature of reality.” When women write philosophy, it will be different than that made by men We are what our context makes us, as are our notions of truth All philosophy is an effort to persuade made using the best methods of argument & evidence available It is not just about knowledge. Given infinite knowledge, the individual would “ask himself, what of it? What is it all about? What does it all mean?” (40-41)

20 Two Ideas of Liberty “One of them says that freedom is action in accord with the consciousness of fixed law; that men are free when they are rational, and they are rational when they recognize and consciously conform to the necessities which the universe exemplified.” Becomes “an apologetic for the established order”, committed to a “metaphysics of aristocracy” of those able to apprehend the fixed truth “A philosophy animated, be it consciously or unconsciously, by the strivings of men to achieve democracy will construe liberty as meaning a universe in which there is real uncertainty and contingency, a world which is not all in, and never will be, a world which is in some respect incomplete and in the making, and which in these respects may be made this way or that according as men judge, prize, love and labor.” This philosophy will be scientific in the sense of experimental (43-45)

21 “The men who questioned the divine right of kings did so in the name of another absolute. The voice of the people was mythologzed into the voice of God.” But while the monarch may be remote enough for such a mythologizing, the people are too near “Hence democracy has ranked for the most part as an intellectual anomaly, lacking philosophical basis and logical coherency, but upon the whole to be accepted because somehow or other it works better than other schemes and seems to develop a more kindly and humane set of social institutions.” Equality and individualism, created by democracy, compel the recognition of “a world in which an existence must be reckoned with on its own account, not as something capable of equation with and transformation into something else.” (46)

22 A public opinion that changes and affects its own governance (180-181)
“The Great Society created by steam and electricity may be a society, but it is no community.” Former societies were both, face-to-face communities governed by settled customs and authorities How has a society which suborns the individual to powers far from his or her life generated the philosophy of individualism? Industrialization provided “a release of human potentialities previously dormant” as economic individuation disrupted communities while liberating individuals This individuation unsettled traditional rules & regulations, which now seemed irrationally stifling of economic activity, and democracy emerged as one way of replacing them with new rules in a way compatible with the new prevailing ethic A public opinion that changes and affects its own governance ( )

23 Nonetheless, these policies & practices intended to liberate the individual have had unintended consequences “Instead of the independent, self-moved individuals contemplated by the theory, we have standardized interchangeable units.” People associate not out of volition, but due to confluence of vast historical & economic forces, which produce concentrations of economic power that inevitable reach out to control the state “The same forces which have brought the forms of democratic government, general suffrage, executives and legislators chosen by majority vote, have also brought about conditions which halt the social and humane ideals that demand the utilization of gov’t as the instrumentality of an inclusive and fraternally associated public.” (182-83)

24 Education in the scientific method can train public opinion
“Differences of opinion in the sense of differences of judgment as to the course of which it is best to follow, the policy which it is best to try out, will still exist. But opinion in the sense of beliefs formed and held in the absence of evidence will be reduced in quantity and importance. No longer will views generated in view of special situations be frozen into absolute standards and masquerade as eternal truths” An educated public opinion, trained to evaluate & experiment “Popular government is educative as other modes of political regulation are not. It forces a recognition that there are common interests, even though the recognition of what they are is confused; and the need it enforces of discussion and publicity brings about some clarification of what they are.” “Popular gov’t has at least created public spirit even if it its success in informing that spirit has not been great.” (186-87)

25 “Capacities are limited by the objects and tools at hand.” (187-188)
“Majority rule, just as majority rule, is as foolish as its critics charge it with being. But it is never merely majority rule.” “The means by which a majority comes to be a majority is the more important thing.” “The essential need, in other words, is the improvement of the methods & conditions of debate, discussion, and persuasion. That is the problem of the public. We have asserted that this improvement depends essentially upon freeing and perfecting the processes of inquiry and of dissemination of conclusions.” “It is not necessary that the many should have the knowledge and skill to carry on the needed investigations; what is required is that they have the ability to judge of the bearing of the knowledge supplied by others upon common concerns.” “Capacities are limited by the objects and tools at hand.” ( )

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