Utterly impenetrable and of limited significance, Knowing and the Known has rightfully taken its place as the black sheep of pragmatic philosophy. DewUtterly impenetrable and of limited significance, Knowing and the Known has rightfully taken its place as the black sheep of pragmatic philosophy. Dewey and Bentley begin by dropping the name of numerous early twentieth century epistemelogists (rendering it scarcely readable for anyone but PhD philosophers) and tearing them down for using poorly defined definitions. They then go on to create several poorly described redefinitions of words like "fact", "sign", or "known" and justify their knew unintuitive conventions by claiming that they only do so temporarily until something else better comes along. Of course, they then dogmatically stick to these temporary definitions for the remainder of the book.
After these painful introductory chapters, they open the discussion to ripping the traditional epistemological models of induction and deduction, although they can't help themselves but to call them "interactional" and "self-actional" so as to make it as confusing as possible. "Interaction" and "self-action" are then contrasted with their newly invented coined epistemic idea, the "transactional." This tremendous breakthrough in philosophy takes examples in science where the relationship between the science and his observation is ambiguous and that therefore, the only objective reality of the observation is what the scientist wants it to be. This is not hyperbole.
Dewey and Bentley continue to use their arbitrarily redefine terms like "knowing" and "known" and fit them into their greater epistemic model where there is no objective truth outside the observer's mind and all that matters is "scientifically" "experimenting" to "solve problems." Obviously, this is the only truth humanity can ever hope to understand, whether that truth is physics or morality.
No one should ever, ever read this book. Unless you are already interested in William James or Dewey's earlier works and want to watch pragmatic philosophy sent through a wood chipper and reconstitued by a four-year-old....more