Evolution, Poetry, and Growth

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):285-300 (2013)
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Abstract

This paper challenges the assumption that John Dewey’s appeal to the philosophical significance of evolutionary theory serves primarily to legitimize the sciences. By contrast, I argue that a more careful examination of Dewey’s conception of growth reveals that his appropriation of the Darwinian worldview is fundamentally aesthetic. To give contour to the aesthetic Dewey extracts from Darwinism, I consider several aspects of his thought alongside Friedrich Schlegel’s conception of romantic poetry. This, in turn, helps to illustrate that, for Dewey, the dramatic subsistence involved in evolutionary development yields a natural aesthetic that makes possible his notion of meaningful experience.

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Jennifer Gaffney
Loyola University, Chicago

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