SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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Epicurean Pragmatism

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Charlie Hobbs
Gonzaga University
United States

This paper takes into account the rather approving statements Dewey makes about the Epicureans in his 1922 Human Nature and Conduct and in the 1932 edition of his Ethics. In so doing, it is shown how Dewey finds in that often misunderstood ethical tradition the historical precursor to Dewey’s own emphasis upon the primacy of the present, an emphasis quite unlike utilitarianism’s shameful subordination of the present to the future. To understand the significance of Epicurean thought for Dewey is to also better understand why Dewey is decidedly not the utilitarian for whom he has sometimes been badly mistaken.


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