Was John Dewey Ethnocentric? Reevaluating the Philosopher’s Early Views on Culture and Race

Sep. 15, 2010

Source: Educational Researcher, 39(6): 471-477. (August/September 2010).

In this study, the author investigates the early racial and cultural views of John Dewey.

The author argues that, during his years at the University of Chicago, Dewey considered American non-White minorities to be biologically equal to Whites but socially deficient.
In particular, Dewey subscribed to two 19th-century conceptual frameworks: linear historicism and genetic psychology, which both relegated non-Western societies to the status of prior steps toward the developed status represented by the industrialized West.

However, working within these broad ethnocentric conceptual frameworks, Dewey forged important new positions on the social-scientific issues of latent biological potentials and the doctrine of the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

Updated: Jul. 26, 2011