An awkward echo : Matthew Arnold and John Dewey



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My study looks at the influence that Matthew Arnold, 19th century English poet and literary critic, had on John Dewey, American pragmatist and educational philosopher. While the influence of Arnold on Dewey was more pervasive than I had expected, my real purpose in writing this dissertation was to discover a middle ground between the educational philosophies the two men espoused and to construe a fuller approach to a pluralistic educational philosophy. I have looked at four aspects of mind that draw Arnold and Dewey into close correspondence. The first aspect I have called the tentacled mind from Dewey's favored metaphor of the mind as having tentacles that reach out and encounter directly the physical world. This aspect of mind allows me to look at the common use that both Arnold and Dewey made of the term "experience." The second aspect of mind I call the critical mind. I have explored this aspect of mind by looking at a brief history of English literary criticism from Dryden to Stanley Fish. The third aspect of mind is the intentional mind which deals with the rhetorical-hermeneutic relationship of mind to the intentionality of other voices and to its own intentionality. This aspect crosses into reader response theory, but I have found within it results that differ significantly from traditional reader-response theory. The final aspect of mind I have called reflective-response. In both Arnold and Dewey the reflective aspects of the mind differ widely from more contemplative conceptions of the mind in a reflective state; most notably for both Arnold and Dewey the reflective mind is never passive. I believe that when these four aspects of mind are brought together they amount to a truly pluralistic educational philosophy. In the course of my argument I have, as well, identified a need to rehabilitate both the concept of intentionality and that of authority.