SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Freeing Dewey's Unmodern Plato: Incorporating the Lost Manuscript into Dewey's Experiment with Greek Philosophy

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Albert Spencer
Portland State University
United States

In his intellectual autobiography, "From Absolutism to Experimentalism" (1930) John Dewey makes the perplexing statement that "Nothing could be more helpful to present philosophizing than a "Back to Plato" movement" (LW.5.154), yet the majority of Dewey's comments about Plato in his major work are polemic. The recent discovery and publication of John Dewey's lost manuscript Unmodern Philosophy and Modern Philosophy demands a revaluation of Dewey's complex relationship with Greek philosophy. This paper will integrate the manuscript into Dewey's work on the Greeks, specifically Plato, and reassess the critical work of John P. Anton and Frederick M. Anderson. In conclusion, the manuscript provides more support for Anderson's depiction of Dewey's experiment with Greek philosophy, yet Anton's interpretive framework remains vital and his defense of the Greeks from Dewey attempts at reconstruction should be heeded and investigated.


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