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Peace in Motion

John Dewey and the Aesthetics of Well-Being


Yoram Lubling and Eric Evans

In this book Yoram Lubling and Eric Evans offer a Deweyan reconstruction of our philosophical understanding of well-being. They begin with Dewey’s critique of the «philosophical fallacy» to examine the legitimacy and value of theories of well-being offered by traditional philosophy. However, such theories fail to provide an authentic account of well-being due to a false understanding of experience as either epistemic or cognitive. Next, using Dewey’s theory of experience, they reconstruct «happiness» as the target for evaluation of well-being. This leads them to reject the traditional view of a private encapsulated self, and to offer in its place a transactionally situated self which is an embodied, enculturated agent. Through their emphasis on the importance of the qualitative aspects of Dewey’s understanding of a situation, the pervasive quality of the situation emerges as the most plausible criterion for the evaluation of well-being. The authors use Dewey’s theories of inquiry, ethics, value and art to establish the naturalistic conditions under which such pervasive quality enters into a situation as either settled or unsettled, in other words, as peace in motion. Consequently, a problematic situation becomes the primary condition under which all inquiry initiates whether it is in the context of science, ethics, values, art or ordinary living. Lubling and Evans conclude that a Deweyan account of well-being involves embodied knowing instead of the traditional view of cognitive knowledge. By using such an account, it is possible to explain the conditions and mechanisms under which well-being contributes to the enlargement and enrichment of individual and collective human experience.
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The completion of this work would not have been possible without the ongoing support and assistance of numerous colleagues, co-workers, friends and family. We want to extend our appreciation to Professors Karl Hostetler and Margaret Macintyre Latta for the many wonderful conversations that have helped to deepen our understanding of Dewey’s work. We wish to extend our heart-felt gratitude to Professor Arthur Lothstein who served to introduce us to the originality and brilliance of Dewey’s philosophy. The conversations we had with Professors Latta and Lothstein, in particular, have been most helpful in our efforts to understand Dewey’s theory of art and aesthetics. When it comes to recognizing the contribution of Professor Lothstein to this project, all we can say is that it most likely never would have come into being without him. As Professor’s Lubling undergraduate mentor and friend he has influenced our thinking the most.

We also want to recognize the support and encouragement over the years by a number of friends and colleagues—you know who you are!! Most importantly, though, all the efforts leading to the completion of this work would not have been possible without the continuous support and encouragement of our wives, Amy J. Evans and Lynne Maurer Lubling. We are deeply aware of the many sacrifices they were called upon to make as we continued to pursue this work over the course of the last five years. To them we will be forever grateful. Eric Evans also ← xvii | xviii → wants...

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