SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Pragmatism as Gunship Philosophy: José Vasconcelos’ Critique of John Dewey

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This work expands the crucial and evolving inter-American philosophical dialogue from its current focus on establishing commonalities between the philosophical traditions of the Americas to include conversations that intelligently and candidly address points of contention. This paper hopes to generate a constructive discussion regarding a trenchant but largely ignored critique of one of the most influential English language philosophers of the Americas – John Dewey—that was written by one of the most influential Spanish language philosophers of the Americas – José Vasconcelos. In particular, this paper examines Vasconcelos’s charge that Dewey’s pragmatism was merely a gunship philosophy designed to provide ideological cover for a U.S. led Anglo-Saxon global empire. This critique merits scholarly attention not only because it is virtually unknown among English language philosophers (as it is still only available in Spanish), but because it anticipates later discussions about the relationship between pragmatism, democracy and empire.


Terrance MacMullan    
Eastern Washington University
United States


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