Some Definitions of the Ideal of Democracy
[from] Democracy and Imagination: The Practical Idealism of John Dewey
by Gordon L. Ziniewicz

The imaginative vision of the common good as a "whole," including the unique fulfillment of individuals through cooperative and mutually reinforcing activity, within the context of nature as a "whole," is the moral and social ideal of democracy. (Democracy and Imagination, p. 203)

The ideal of democracy for Americans is none other than the imaginative vision of an America wherein Americans freely interact in ways which further the development of the unique capacity of each individual. (Democracy and Imagination, p. 245)

The ideal of democracy is the idea (possibility) of voluntary cooperation (unity) of diverse and unique individualities (plurality), distinctive individuals who are open to the distinctive individuality and interests of one another. This means that the ideal combines personal creativity (originality of outlook) with sympathy (an outlook which includes imaginatively the outlooks of others). It is marked by flexibility of thought and action in following a path which is one's own but which "looks out for others" as they pursue their paths. It invites the possibility of "shared paths," where individuals walk in the light of ideals (such as the ideal of democracy) and with the help of methods worked out together. The ideal of democracy is an imaginative vision of individuals respecting others as individuals (equality), leading and governing themselves (liberty) and assisting others to do the same (fraternity) by modifying the conditions of life (economic, industrial, social, and educational) so as to foster personal initiative and growth. (Democracy and Imagination, p. 254)



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This page last updated 10/14/12

Please note: These philosophical commentaries, though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L. Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text. One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission of the author.