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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > John Dewey Quotes

John Dewey
(1859 - 1952)

American philosopher.

Science Quotes by John Dewey (20 quotes)

Communication of science as subject-matter has so far outrun in education the construction of a scientific habit of mind that to some extent the natural common sense of mankind has been interfered with to its detriment.
— John Dewey
Address to Section L, Education, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Boston (1909), 'Science as Subject-Matter and as Method'. Published in Science (28 Jan 1910), N.S. Vol. 31, No. 787, 126.
Science quotes on:  |  Common Sense (34)  |  Communication (37)  |  Construction (36)  |  Education (177)  |  Habit (42)  |  Interfere (4)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Mind (272)  |  Outrun (2)  |  Science (875)  |  Science Education (10)  |  Scientific (55)

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. What are now working conceptions, employed as a matter of course because they have withstood the tests of experiment and have emerged triumphant, were once speculative hypotheses.
— John Dewey
'The Copernican Revolution', in The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action (1929), 294. Collected in John Dewey. Volume 4: The Later Works, 1925-1953: 1929 The Quest for Certainty (1984), 247. The first sentence is used as the motto of The Bronx High School of Science, New York.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (369)  |  Hypothesis (150)

In England, philosophers are honoured, respected; they rise to public offices, they are buried with the kings... In France warrants are issued against them, they are persecuted, pelted with pastoral letters: Do we see that England is any the worse for it?
— John Dewey
'Introduction aux Grands Principes ou Reception d'un Philosophe', in J. Assézat (ed.), Oeuvres Complètes (1875-7), Vol. 2, 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Philosopher (67)

It has become a cheap intellectual pastime to contrast the infinitesimal pettiness of man with the vastnesses of the stellar universes. Yet all such comparisons are illicit. We cannot compare existence and meaning; they are disparate. The characteristic life of a man is itself the meaning of vast stretches of existences, and without it the latter have no value or significance. There is no common measure of physical existence and conscious experience because the latter is the only measure there is of the former. The significance of being, though not its existence, is the emotion it stirs, the thought it sustains.
— John Dewey
Philosophy and Civilization (1931), reprinted in David Sidorsky (ed.), John Dewey: The Essential Writings (1977), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Human (168)

Just as in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, an individual comes into being, so to speak, grows, remains in being, declines and passes on, will it not be the same for entire species? If our faith did not teach us that animals left the Creator's hands just as they now appear and, if it were permitted to entertain the slightest doubt as to their beginning and their end, may not a philosopher, left to his own conjectures, suspect that, from time immemorial, animal life had its own constituent elements, scattered and intermingled with the general body of matter, and that it happened when these constituent elements came together because it was possible for them to do so; that the embryo formed from these elements went through innumerable arrangements and developments, successively acquiring movement, feeling, ideas, thought, reflection, consciousness, feelings, emotions, signs, gestures, sounds, articulate sounds, language, laws, arts and sciences; that millions of years passed between each of these developments, and there may be other developments or kinds of growth still to come of which we know nothing; that a stationary point either has been or will be reached; that the embryo either is, or will be, moving away from this point through a process of everlasting decay, during which its faculties will leave it in the same way as they arrived; that it will disappear for ever from nature-or rather, that it will continue to exist there, but in a form and with faculties very different from those it displays at this present point in time? Religion saves us from many deviations, and a good deal of work. Had religion not enlightened us on the origin of the world and the universal system of being, what a multitude of different hypotheses we would have been tempted to take as nature's secret! Since these hypotheses are all equally wrong, they would all have seemed almost equally plausible. The question of why anything exists is the most awkward that philosophy can raise- and Revelation alone provides the answer.
— John Dewey
Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature and Other Philosophical Works (1753/4), ed. D. Adams (1999), Section LVIII, 75-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Nature (534)

Knowledge falters when imagination clips its wings or fears to use them.
— John Dewey
'The Copernican Revolution', in The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action (1929), 294. Collected in John Dewey. Volume 4: The Later Works, 1925-1953: 1929 The Quest for Certainty (1984), 247.
Science quotes on:  |  Fear (53)  |  Imagination (130)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Wing (16)

Man is merely a frequent effect, a monstrosity is a rare one, but both are equally natural, equally inevitable, equally part of the universal and general order. And what is strange about that? All creatures are involved in the life of all others, consequently every species... all nature is in a perpetual state of flux. Every animal is more or less a human being, every mineral more or less a plant, every plant more or less an animal... There is nothing clearly defined in nature.
— John Dewey
D'Alembert's Dream (1769), in Rameau's Nephew and D' Alembert's Dream, trans. Leonard Tancock (Penguin edition 1966), 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Human (168)

Method means that arrangement of subject matter which makes it most effective in use. Never is method something outside of the material.
— John Dewey
Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), 194.
Science quotes on:  |  Arrangement (25)  |  Education (177)  |  Effectiveness (9)  |  Material (60)  |  Method (73)  |  Outside (10)  |  Subject (51)

Scientific method is not just a method which it has been found profitable to pursue in this or that abstruse subject for purely technical reasons. It represents the only method of thinking that has proved fruitful in any subject—that is what we mean when we call it scientific. It is not a peculiar development of thinking for highly specialized ends; it is thinking, so far as thought has become conscious of its proper ends and of the equipment indispensable for success in their pursuit ... When our schools truly become laboratories of knowledge-making, not mills fitted out with information-hoppers, there will no longer be need to discuss the place of science in education.
— John Dewey
Address to Section L, Education, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Boston (1909), 'Science as Subject-Matter and as Method'. Published in Science (28 Jan 1910), N.S. Vol. 31, No. 787, 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Development (122)  |  Fruitful (9)  |  Information (56)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mill (3)  |  Science Education (10)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Success (114)  |  Thinking (166)

Since in reality there is nothing to which growth is relative save more growth, there is nothing to which education is subordinate save more education.‎
— John Dewey
Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (177)  |  Growth (70)  |  Subordinate (2)

Society exists through a process of transmission quite as much as biological life. This transmission occurs by means of communication of habits of doing, thinking, and feeling from the older to the younger.
— John Dewey
Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (60)  |  Communication (37)  |  Education (177)  |  Existence (150)  |  Feeling (47)  |  Habit (42)  |  Process (97)  |  Society (84)  |  Thought (170)  |  Transmission (18)

That the great majority of those who leave school should have some idea of the kind of evidence required to substantiate given types of belief does not seem unreasonable. Nor is it absurd to expect that they should go forth with a lively interest in the ways in which knowledge is improved and a marked distaste for all conclusions reached in disharmony with the methods of scientific inquiry.
— John Dewey
Address to Section L, Education, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Boston (1909), 'Science as Subject-Matter and as Method'. Published in Science (28 Jan 1910), N.S. Vol. 31, No. 787, 126.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (139)  |  Conclusion (74)  |  Evidence (83)  |  Improve (9)  |  Inquiry (14)  |  Interest (82)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Majority (17)  |  School (36)  |  Science Education (10)  |  Scientific Method (101)  |  Substantiate (2)

The future of our civilisation depends upon the widening spread and deepening hold of the scientific habit of mind.
— John Dewey
Address to Section L, Education, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Boston (1909). Published in Science (1910), N.S. Vol. 31, No. 787, 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Civilisation (6)  |  Deepening (2)  |  Depend (9)  |  Future (110)  |  Habit (42)  |  Hold (21)  |  Mind (272)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Spread (7)

The moment philosophy supposes it can find a final and comprehensive solution, it ceases to be inquiry and becomes either apologetics or propaganda.
— John Dewey
Logic (1938), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Philosophy (132)

The theory of the method of knowing which is advanced in these pages may be termed pragmatic. ... Only that which has been organized into our disposition so as to enable us to adapt the environment to our needs and adapt our aims and desires to the situation in which we live is really knowledge.
— John Dewey
Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), 400.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (23)  |  Aim (21)  |  Desire (46)  |  Disposition (7)  |  Enable (10)  |  Environment (75)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Life (460)  |  Method (73)  |  Need (57)  |  Organization (51)  |  Situation (21)

To be born, to live and to die is merely to change forms... And what does one form matter any more than another?... Each form has its own sort of happiness and unhappiness. From the elephant down to the flea... from the flea down to the sensitive and living molecule which is the origin of all, there is not a speck in the whole of nature that does not feel pain or pleasure.
— John Dewey
D'Alembert's Dream (1769), in Rameau's Nephew and D' Alembert's Dream, trans. Leonard Tancock (Penguin edition 1966), 182.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (460)

Unless our laboratory results are to give us artificialities, mere scientific curiosities, they must be subjected to interpretation by gradual re-approximation to conditions of life.
— John Dewey
'Psychology and Social Practice', The Psychological Review, 1900, 7, 119.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (369)

We have three approaches at our disposal: the observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation serves to assemble the data, reflection to synthesise them and experimentation to test the results of the synthesis. The observation of nature must be assiduous, just as reflection must be profound, and experimentation accurate. These three approaches are rarely found together, which explains why creative geniuses are so rare.
— John Dewey
Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature and Other Philosophical Works (1753/4), ed. D. Adams (1999), section XV, 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (369)  |  Observation (264)

Without initiation into the scientific spirit one is not in possession of the best tools humanity has so far devised for effectively directed reflection. [Without these one] fails to understand the full meaning of knowledge.
— John Dewey
Democracy and Education: an Introduction to the Philosophy of Education (1916), 223.
Science quotes on:  |  Devise (4)  |  Direct (9)  |  Effective (9)  |  Fail (8)  |  Humanity (46)  |  Initiation (3)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Possession (24)  |  Reflection (26)  |  Scientific (55)  |  Spirit (52)  |  Tool (30)  |  Understanding (231)

Without the English, reason and philosophy would still be in the most despicable infancy in France.
— John Dewey
Essai sur les Études en Russie', in J. Assézat (ed.), Oeuvres Complètes (1875-7), Vol. 3, 416. Quoted in Peter Gay, The Enlightenment (1966), Vol. I, 12.
Science quotes on:  |  Philosophy (132)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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