NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ825833
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8510
Dewey and Taoism: Teleology and Art
Sartwell, Crispin
Journal of Aesthetic Education, v43 n1 p30-40 Spr 2009
In some ways, the inaugural thought of the Western tradition is Aristotle's, repeated with regard to almost every subject-matter he investigated. We could call this thought teleology, technology, or means-ends rationality. Here is the first sentence of the "Nicomachean Ethics": "Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." This notion reappears in fits and starts through the tradition, and has a particularly fraught relation to Christianity. But in Adam Smith's economics and in utilitarian ethics, as well as in economic and political orders they reflect, they re-assert their dominance. And in pragmatism, teleology becomes a theory of all value, and in particular a theory of truth. The West, however, also suffers from teleology, or from (in the current phases) "excellence" or a "purpose-driven life." And it is possible for a planet to suffer from our enthusiasm for its technological transformation. Within the Western tradition, the Easter tradition is read as a cure for teleology, as a place where ends are annihilated into being, or into immediacy, in which one lets go of purpose and finds peace. This paper explores that imaginary construction of teleology's Asian other. But even Aristotle, and even the pragmatists, felt an urgency to collapse ends into means, to find meaning in the process as well as the products of living. They found it, I propose, and perhaps the zone where West meets West's East, in the concept of art, particularly as set out in Dewey's great work of aesthetics, "Art as Experience." (Contains 4 notes.)
University of Illinois Press. 1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6903. Tel: 217-244-0626; Fax: 217-244-8082; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A