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David Fott: John Dewey: America's Philosopher of Democracy. (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998. Pp. xii, 167. $58.00. $22.95, paper.)
Pragmatism, as Tocquevile first suggested, is America's characteristic form of thought. John Dewey was our country's most celebrated and prolific pragmatic thinker, and David Fott rightly labels him America's philosopher of democracy. Fott's book is far more than an introduction to Dewey's thought. it is a comprehensive and pithy account of the strengths and weaknesses-philosophical, moral, and political-of Dewey's way of thinking. Faint praise it is to say that reading Fott is more enjoyable and illuminating than reading Dewey. But it is also true that those who have found life too short to spend much time with Dewey can benefit from this book. Fott shows why to understand Dewey is to understand something about America. By complacently replacing faith in God and in the individual human mind with faith in modern science's technological experimentalism, especially its methodical reconciliation of the individual and the social good, he made philosophy, education, and morality more dogmatic and boring.