Review of John Dewey: German Philosophy and Politics

Review of German Philosophy and Politics (Revised Edition), by John Dewey, Social Research, Vol. 10, No. 4 (November 1943).  Reprinted in What Is Political Philosophy.


In attacking German philosophy Dewey defends not simply the cause of democracy, and international order, but a particular interpretation of that cause–his own philosophical doctrine. He seems to think that democracy is as much bound up with a belief “which is frankly experimental” as political absolutism is with “a philosophy of absolutes.” No one will deny “that philosophical absolutism may be practically as dangerous as matter of fact political absolutism” (p. 113). But is it not also true that the “frankly experimental” “method … of success” (p. 142) has proved very dangerous in the hands of unscrupulous men, and that the belief in an “absolute” inspired the words “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”?