Chapter 10 Democratic Self-Cultivation

In: John Dewey and Chinese Education
Author:
Leonard J. WAKS
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Abstract

In this paper I draw on the concept of Confucian self-cultivation to strengthen John Dewey’s democratic education project. For Dewey, democracy is primarily a form of associated living, marked by the broad sharing of interests and rich communication among social groups. In appealing to Confucian philosophy to bolster Dewey’s educational project, I adopt the framework of global Intercultural philosophy, placing philosophical approaches from different cultural traditions together to augment intellectual resources and advance philosophical understanding. This approach initially dictates a comparative method: “setting into dialogue sources from across cultural, linguistic, and philosophical streams” (). I draw particularly upon the Analects of Confucius, the collected works of John Dewey, and standard interpretive works. But I go beyond mere comparison, to argue for an enriched form of democratic education, bolstered by Confucian insights, and suitable for contemporary Western democracies.

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  • Introduction A Centennial Reflection on Dewey’s Visit of China

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