DEMOCRACY AND IMAGINATION: THE PRACTICAL IDEALISM OF JOHN DEWEY

Chapter Six: Individuality, Liberty, and Equality
(Draft Outline)

1. Ideal of democracy in relation to individuality and association.

2. The democratic disposition; liberty, equality, and fraternity.

3. The ideal of democracy and real conditions; faith in human nature required by democracy.

4. Acquired nature (nurture) more important than original nature.

5. Two natural human tendencies, shared by human beings with all things in nature: Tendency to stand apart (individuality); tendency to combine with others (association).

6. These two tendencies are correlative and interdependent.

7. These two tendencies are found in nature.

8. Importance of the individual; society means individuals together.

9. Individuality means uniqueness; novelty arises from the continual release of new individuals.

10. Human uniqueness as unique “angle of vision” or unique standpoint.

11. Why each unique angle of vision is important for democracy.

12. Democratic versus authoritarian views of novelty.

13. Humans are qualitatively unique configurations of common or shared conditions; what human beings have in common.

14. Unique individuality as promise and fulfillment, possibility and actuality; equality as fulfillment of individual capacities; how individuality is achieved and expressed.

15. Qualitative equality versus quantitative equality. Problems with quantitative measures (see Nietzsche and IQ tests).

16. Alternative to the democratic position: authoritarian arrangement of human beings or classes according to quantitative conditions (hierarchical gradation of beings).

17. Quantitative conditions are means; growth is the end (fulfilling individual capacities).

18. Equality is an ideal only partially realized; pragmatic test of the ideal of equality. Humanistic faith in growth through education.

19. What growth means; human potential depends upon the presence of real opportunities or resources.

20. Freedom or liberty. Freedom means development of capacities for thought and action. Freedom (negatively) as absence of obstacles and inhibitions. Freedom (positively) as presence of resources and opportunities.

21. Freedom of action as freedom to change conditions through overt action. Freedom of action depends upon and is limited by the freedom of action of others.

22. Freedom of thought (most important for Dewey) means growth in intelligence through framing purposes and choosing among alternatives (reflection). Freedom of thought requires some overt action.

23. Like freedom of action, freedom of thought has a negative sense: Freedom of the mind from inhibition and prejudice, as well as dogmatism.

24. Positive freedom of thought includes capacity to frame one’s own purposes, to choose among alternatives, to think. Positive freedom requires resources or conditions such as knowledge gained through experience and education.

25. The freedom to frame one’s own purposes versus submission to the purposes of others.

26. Choice essential to growth in unique individuality.

27. Alternatives to continuity between thought and action: action without thought, thought without action, obedience and fantasy.

28. Democratic ideal requires faith in freedom as potential and actual.

29. Freedom as the ability to change one’s mind, not as the absence of preference or direction. Freedom as the ability to change direction mentally and overtly. We cannot make people mentally free, but we can encourage freedom of thought through education.

30. The ability to change preference is based upon the ability to think alternatives (to reflect) and therefore is based also upon imagination. Open-mindedness requires flexibility of imagination. Communication of a wide range of ideas (education) helps develop imagination by providing possibilities for thought. Unique angles of vision as endless source of new ideas.

31. Growth in imagination requires empathy or imagination of the standpoints of others and real communication with others to find out what they think. Imagination means social imagination or imagination which includes others and their projects. Liberty and equality require fraternity.


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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.