A search for unity in diversity: The "permanent Hegelian deposit" in the philosophy of John Dewey
Good, James Allan
Haskell, Thomas L.
Doctor of Philosophy
This study demonstrates that Dewey did not reject Hegelianism during the 1890s, as scholars maintain, but developed a humanistic/historicist reading that was indebted to an American Hegelian tradition. Scholars have misunderstood the "permanent Hegelian deposit" in Dewey's thought because they have not fully appreciated this American Hegelian tradition and have assumed that his Hegelianism was based primarily on British neo-Hegelianism. The study examines the American reception of Hegel in the nineteenth-century by intellectuals as diverse as James Marsh and Frederic Henry Hedge and how it flowered in late nineteenth-century St. Louis. The St. Louis Hegelians read Hegel as a particularly practical and politically liberal philosopher whose social philosophy promoted both social diversity and unity. Led by W. T. Harris, they studied Hegel in German and published their own scholarship, as well as translations of German scholarship, in their Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Their efforts to make "Hegel talk English" and to base the St. Louis public schools on Hegel's philosophy of education won them national, and even, international attention. The St. Louis Hegelians sought to adapt Hegel's thought to their American context by assuaging elitist elements within it; Dewey's intellectual development was profoundly shaped by their appropriation of his philosophy. Dewey drew upon Hegel's argument that humans form societies because of their differences, not in spite of them. Hegel's rejection of the self-sufficient, atomistic individual entailed that the individual is dependent upon others for the satisfaction of material needs. Moreover, like Hegel, Dewey rejected the hedonistic basis of the British political tradition by arguing that humans seek recognition from their equals as well as satisfaction of material needs. Dewey believed Hegel's emphasis upon equality and diversity provided a model of society in which there was fertile ground for the individual to conceive and articulate cultural criticism. The study ends by comparing recent Hegel scholarship to Dewey's, demonstrating that American Hegelianism has returned, in important ways, to a Deweyan reading of Hegel.
American history; Philosophy