The Metaphysical Grounding of Logical Operations: John Dewey’s Theory of Qualitative Continuity

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
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  • 1 Philosophy Faculty, Minneapolis College. Visiting Adjunct Professor, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, Minneapolis, MN, USA, pcherlin001@csbsju.edu

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Abstract

In John Dewey’s logical theory, qualities or qualitative relations account for the capacity to distinguish and associate the objects of reflective thought; they are antecedent to reflective analysis and necessary for coherent processes of inquiry. In Dewey’s writings that are specifically “metaphysical” in orientation, he is much more vague about the function of qualities, but does call them “generic traits of existence.” As such, they appear to be central to his mature ontological theory. In order to more fully understand the metaphysical import of qualitative relations, I first examine the details of Dewey’s logical theory, and then generalize those details in accordance with Dewey’s larger theory of nature. The end result is a novel interpretation of Dewey’s metaphysics.

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