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The Democratic Individual: Dewey’s Back to Plato Movement

The Democratic Individual: Dewey’s Back to Plato Movement jeff jackson University of California, Los Angeles in his most distinctly political book, The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey describes a never-ending process of achieving democratic governance, in which obstacles to such governance inevitably emerge, and are progressively overcome. However, even in that evidently political work, Dewey still emphasizes that there is a "distinction between democracy as a social idea and political democracy as a system of government. . . . The idea of democracy is a wider and fuller idea than can be exemplified in the state even at its best" (143). The typical political bodies that exercise legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial power are not the only institutions that significantly impact how individuals live their lives. Political institutions could be deemed as meeting democratic standards, while "non-political" associations at the societal level (such as family, work, or religion) are substantially hindering the possibilities for individuals to exercise autonomous control over their own growth. Dewey's vision of democratic possibilities ultimately comes down to the individual level, and an individual's social relations define the course of her life to an even greater degree than her political institutions.1 As he puts it, "democracy cannot now depend upon or http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

The Democratic Individual: Dewey’s Back to Plato Movement

The Pluralist , Volume 9 (1) – Mar 1, 2014

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1944-6489
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Abstract

jeff jackson University of California, Los Angeles in his most distinctly political book, The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey describes a never-ending process of achieving democratic governance, in which obstacles to such governance inevitably emerge, and are progressively overcome. However, even in that evidently political work, Dewey still emphasizes that there is a "distinction between democracy as a social idea and political democracy as a system of government. . . . The idea of democracy is a wider and fuller idea than can be exemplified in the state even at its best" (143). The typical political bodies that exercise legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial power are not the only institutions that significantly impact how individuals live their lives. Political institutions could be deemed as meeting democratic standards, while "non-political" associations at the societal level (such as family, work, or religion) are substantially hindering the possibilities for individuals to exercise autonomous control over their own growth. Dewey's vision of democratic possibilities ultimately comes down to the individual level, and an individual's social relations define the course of her life to an even greater degree than her political institutions.1 As he puts it, "democracy cannot now depend upon or

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 1, 2014

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