Cochran Book Asserts John Dewey’s Lasting Influence

John Dewey (1859–1952) was a major figure of the American cultural and intellectual landscape in the first half of the twentieth century. A new book edited by Molly Cochran for the prestigious book series, The Cambridge Companions to Philosophy, examines the wide range of Dewey's thought and provides a critical evaluation of his philosophy and its lasting influence in philosophy and other disciplines.

While not the originator of American pragmatism, Dewey was instrumental to its articulation as a philosophy and the spread of its influence beyond philosophy to other disciplines. Cochran’s The Cambridge Companion to Dewey (Cambridge University Press) encompasses the wide range of Dewey’s prolific writings on metaphysics, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, psychology, moral philosophy, the philosophies of religion, art, and education, and democratic political and international theory.

“I took on this project because the Cambridge Companions is the “go-to” series for anyone seeking the state of the literature at that moment on the great philosophers consults, and I believed that Dewey deserved a place in that series," said Cochran, an associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.  “America is not typically viewed as having a rich philosophical culture, but American pragmatism had, in the first half of the 20 th century, a major impact in philosophy and it is enjoying a resurgence again today. One example is James Kloppennerg’s recent book, Reading Obama, which links Obama’s approach to politics to this philosophical tradition in which Dewey was a key contributor.”

The book is considered a resource for both the novice and the specialists since it encompasses both an introduction to Dewey’s work as well as more technical details. Chapters by each contributor provide a brief account of the current state of a field of study or discipline and capture the breadth of Dewey's thought within philosophy as a discipline and beyond.

Cochran is working on a manuscript for a new book titled International Publics: Agents of Democratic Change in World Politics.