John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with the philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Dewey as the 93rd most cited psychologist of the 20th century. A well-known public intellectual, he was also a major voice of progressive education and liberalism. Although Dewey is known best for his publications about education, he also wrote about many other topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, art, logic, social theory, and ethics.
The overriding theme of Dewey’s works was his profound belief in democracy, be it in politics, education or communication and journalism. As Dewey himself stated in 1888, while still at the University of Michigan, “Democracy and the one, ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonymous.”
Known for his advocacy of democracy, Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. Dewey asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts, and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.
Here are some of his finest words of wisdom.
1. Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
2. Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
3. Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
4. To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
5. Just as a flower which seems beautiful and has color but no perfume, so are the fruitless words of the man who speaks them but does them not.
6. The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.
7. The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.
8. Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.
9. Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.
10. Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire.
11. The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative.
12. To me faith means not worrying.
13. Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.
14. The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.
15. Without some goals and some efforts to reach it, no man can live.
16. Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us. But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid.
17. Man lives in a world of surmise, of mystery, of uncertainties.
18. One lives with so many bad deeds on one’s conscience and some good intentions in one’s heart.
19. Nature is the mother and the habitat of man, even if sometimes a stepmother and an unfriendly home.
20. We only think when we are confronted with problems.
21. Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis.
Biography via: Wikipedia.