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John Dewey on Happiness: Going Against the Grain of Contemporary Thought

John Dewey on Happiness: Going Against the Grain of Contemporary Thought Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 6, No. 2 (December 2009), 111­135 Editions Rodopi © 2009 Dewey's theory of happiness goes against the grain of much contemporary psychologic and popular thought by identifying the highest form of human happiness with moral behavior. Such happiness, according to Dewey, avoids being at the mercy of circumstances because it is independent of the pleasures and successes we take from experience and, instead, is dependent upon the disposition we bring to experience. It accompanies a disposition characterized by an abiding interest in objects in which all can share, one founded upon a dynamic inner harmony and evolving adjustment to the world. The marks of such an expansive disposition are "stability of character, braveness of soul, and equanimity of soul," and the key to the development of these traits is what Dewey calls "ethical love." We conclude with consideration of three potential criticisms of Dewey's view of happiness and possible Deweyan rejoinders. The final happiness of an individual resides in the supremacy of certain interests in the make-up of character; namely, alert, sincere, enduring interests in the objects in which all can share. It is found in such interests rather than in the accomplishment of definite http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Pragmatism Brill

John Dewey on Happiness: Going Against the Grain of Contemporary Thought

Contemporary Pragmatism , Volume 6 (2): 111 – Apr 21, 2009

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2009 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1572-3429
eISSN
1875-8185
DOI
10.1163/18758185-90000119
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 6, No. 2 (December 2009), 111­135 Editions Rodopi © 2009 Dewey's theory of happiness goes against the grain of much contemporary psychologic and popular thought by identifying the highest form of human happiness with moral behavior. Such happiness, according to Dewey, avoids being at the mercy of circumstances because it is independent of the pleasures and successes we take from experience and, instead, is dependent upon the disposition we bring to experience. It accompanies a disposition characterized by an abiding interest in objects in which all can share, one founded upon a dynamic inner harmony and evolving adjustment to the world. The marks of such an expansive disposition are "stability of character, braveness of soul, and equanimity of soul," and the key to the development of these traits is what Dewey calls "ethical love." We conclude with consideration of three potential criticisms of Dewey's view of happiness and possible Deweyan rejoinders. The final happiness of an individual resides in the supremacy of certain interests in the make-up of character; namely, alert, sincere, enduring interests in the objects in which all can share. It is found in such interests rather than in the accomplishment of definite

Journal

Contemporary PragmatismBrill

Published: Apr 21, 2009

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