Experience, Education and Subjectivity: A Comparison of John Dewey's and Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Conceptions of Experience and Their Implications for Education
Gibson, Grant Wellington
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This thesis compares John Dewey’s philosophy of experience and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, and illustrates how Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology can strengthen and further Dewey’s philosophy of education. I begin by drawing the connection between Dewey’s philosophy of experience and his philosophy of education, and illustrate how Dewey’s understanding of growth, and thinking in education, is rooted in and informed by his detailed philosophy of experience. From there, I give an interpretation of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology with a focus on his descriptions of subjectivity that he presents in the Phenomenology of Perception. Following this, I outline some of the implications Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology has on our understanding of rationality, expression and existence. In the final chapter, I make the comparison between Dewey’s philosophy of experience and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. After demonstrating how these two philosophies are not only similar but also complementary, I then look to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology to provide insight into and to advance Dewey’s philosophy of education. I will illustrate how Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of subjectivity helps to support, and reinforce the rationale behind Dewey’s inquiry-based approach to education. Furthermore, I will show how Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and its implications for rationality, expression and existence support Dewey’s democratic ideal and add a hermeneutical element to Dewey’s philosophy of education.