Back to overview

Degeneration of Associated Life: Dewey's Naturalism about Social Criticism

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Särkelä Arvi,
Project Eine Diagnose sozialer Pathologien? Variationen des Naturalismus in der Sozialphilosophie
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
Volume (Issue) 53(1)
Page(s) 107 - 126
Title of proceedings Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
DOI 10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.53.1.07


In this article, I inquire into the “naturalistic” aspect of John Dewey's China lectures on social philosophy and ask what his naturalism about social philosophy is. In the lectures and the notes, Dewey describes the subject-matter and the method of social philosophy in naturalistic terms: the object of social philosophy is conceived as “associated life” and its method is likened to the “art of medicine,” as the social philosopher is understood to be advancing “diagnoses” and “cures” for “social pathologies.” I next revisit Dewey's naturalistic metaphysics in the hope of finding a clue for how to conceive of Dewey's naturalistic conception of the social. Finally, I indicate how Dewey's naturalism informs the very significance of the critical social philosophy advocated in the Lectures. His naturalistic social philosophy establishes an evaluative approach to social reality, which is not reducible to the normativity of moral or political justification, but is based immanently on the authority of “associated life” itself.