John Dewey
1) What is the quest for certainty Why is it doomed, or destined to fail
Deweys quest for certainty thesis resembles the compensation and rationalization mechanisms of defense. According to Dewey, the pre-philosophical era was already characterized by the tendency to escape into an imaginary world in order to compensate for our difficulties in dealing with real world. This compensation continued with the emergence of philosophy but now took a formal, organized format which it lacked before. This point is illustrated in Deweys view that, what the intellectual formerly believed was a genuine search for abstract knowledge, is in fact an activity motivated by lower, non-epistmemic psychological principles. Men readily persuade themselves that they are devoted to intellectual certainty for its own sake. Actually they want it because of its bearing on safeguarding what they desired and esteem. The need for protection and prosperity in action created the need for warranting the validity of intellectual beliefs. In other words, Dewey believes that the real motives behind the intellectuals inquiry is not an authentic quest for certainty but a need to compensate for our lack of control over the natural environment.
    In Deweys doctrine classical philosophy helped to rationalize our escape to the level of thought
I do not doubt that there was a feeling before the rise of philosophy that the unalterably fixed and the absolutely certain are on, or that change is the source from which comes all our uncertainties and woes. But in philosophy the inchoate feeling was definitely formulated. It was asserted on grounds held to be as demonstrably necessary as are conclusions of geometry and logic.
In other words, parallel to the old ladys altruistic response (in the example above), philosophy has served to justify and make intellectually acceptable the escape to the context of thought by arguing that there is in fact  a supra-empirical world.
    Deweys thesis of the quest for certainty is destined to fail. First, even though Dewey formally rejects reductionism, his attempt to explain abstract types of reasoning in terms psychological needs point to the contrary. Dewey employs social causes in explaining the development of philosophy but these are themselves a reflection of more basic psychological principles. In Deweys scheme the need for security is the cause while the development of the customs of the upper social classes and their search for abstract knowledge is the effect. Consequently, Deweys explanation of the quest for certainty in ultimate psychological terms is reductionist. 
    The second point is that Dewey seems to be assuming that only because certainty gives security has it become desirable.  But this is contrary to some of the classical philosophers view (for example, Plato and Aristotle) who maintain that there is a genuine, epistemic quest for certainty.  That is, the fact that certainty give security does not show that it isnt genuinely desirable.  It is possible that our strive for certainty was epistemically (rather than psychologically) motivated and that safety results as a secondary, by-product of this inquiry.  Consequently, the underlying conflict between Dewey and the classical philosophers can be described in the following mode psychological versus epistemological reasons. 
    The last but not the least point deals with the status of Deweys doctrine of the quest for certainty.  Deweys doctrine suffers from the same weakness as Freuds psychoanalysis it is difficult to specify what sort of evidence could confirm (or refute) their conclusions.  In addition, no matter what one might argue against these doctrine, ones response can be interpreted as evidence that there are underlying psychological principles at work.  Specifically, ones criticism of the theory of the quest for certainty might be interpreted as attempts to cover up the real psychological motives and as a continuation of the rationalization enterprise attributed to philosophers. 2) what should replace certainty as a goal, and supersede the quest for it
Although the quest for certainty as a goal is unique to modernity, it institutes no deep breaks from the ambition for transcendence that has characterized Western civilization since the beginnings of philosophy.  In ancient though, purity was figures as the self-identity of eternity.  In modern thought, purity is relocated in the unassailability of mental certainty.  The quest for uncertainty revamped the ancient and medieval quests for purity in the light of the subjectivism of the modern age.  Purity is no longer marked by the eternality of an objective reality, but rather b y the certainty of a subjective reality. 
This view that purity supersedes certainty is the common desire of intellectualism and mysticism is for benefits bestowed by powers that transcend mere humanity.  Purity in action, so it is supposed, yields an active potency  purity is a moment of resplendent communion with powers better than those we mere humans can otherwise muster.
3) what makes dewey a pragmatist what makes pragmatism American
Dewey concentrated most of his academic career on the branch of philosophy known as
epistemology.   He was also concerned with metaphysics and how it interacted with humans
epistemic functions. Dewey thought history needed an epistemological checkup. He did not want
historians to concentrate on eternal unchanging beings but to look for answers in the present. His
epistemology is probably most associated with naturalistic epistemology.
In order to understand why Dewey is a pragmatist, we must define pragmatism for Dewey first and then continue to the intricacies of his historiography.
Deweys definition of pragmatism is fundamental for a proper understanding of his view
of history. For Dewey, history is both a way to understand humans and an act to present the
problems of men in a logical fashion. In The Growth of the American Mind, Merle Curti explains
that Deweys theory of knowledge is a public functionemphasizing the unfinished character
of society. Deweys theory of history adheres to this naturalistic function, but it is still very
human in its emphasis. However, pragmatisms definition was different for the three founders of
pragmatic philosophy. Deweys is more pluralistic Jamesian pragmatism is monistic in nature
and more foundationalist than Dewey and Royces more individualistic and metaphysical in
nature than Dewey. Philip Jackson writes that the term pragmatism means looking upon the
consequences of any proposition as a necessary test of its validity, provided, of course, that those
consequences are not just imagined but are the results of actions taken in accordance with the
proposition itself. Jackson compares this sequence as making the proposition that the cat is on the mat and then finding the cat. Pragmatism is a philosophy of results. It does not abhor the
contemplative act of philosophizing. Pragmatism does not dwell on abstractions at least
Deweyan pragmatism does not. More importantly, pragmatists do not seek to implement,
abstract ideas into society or into history method.  Dewey wrote that the term pragmatic
means only the rule of referring all thinking, all reflective considerations, to consequences for
final meaning.Jackson expounds upon Deweys definition adding that pragmatism is a way of employing knowledge for the betterment of mankind. Pragmatism is content to take its stand
with science, Dewey wrote. it also takes it stand with daily life.


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