John Dewey “Common faith”

John Dewey “Common faith”

American philosopher John Dewey (1897), in “My Pedagogic Creed,” concludes with these words:

“I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training
of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.
I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling; that
he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order
and the securing of the right social growth.
I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true
God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God. (p. 95)”

The teacher is a prophet, a social servant; apart from teaching and following her duties, she must be an expert in managing and ordering the social life of an individual. According to Dewey, a man is never known by the recognition he has collected in his lives but by the contributions, he has made to society. One must be engaged in contributing to what one knows throughout one’s lifetime. Social struggle is a process of human betterment.

John Dewey ‘spirituality’

The major role of Dewey was to seal the gap between ‘Traditional organized religions’ and ‘Major advances in science’. He produced the concepts of spirituality which would help to maintain the balance between religions and science. The main idea of Dewey was to guide people the true concepts of ‘religions’ (he meant ‘spiritualism’) which is all in us but, we are diverted by the different norms of religious sects and cultures.

Dewey Rejection of ‘supernatural’

John Dewey rejected the ‘concept of the supernatural’ in religions. He affirms that there is nothing such as supernatural. Whatever is there could be observed and confirmed. Belief in the supernatural is the ancient human inabilities to understand the natural phenomenon. Whatever couldn’t be understood has given the name of ‘act of supernatural entity’. In today generations also, whatever phenomenon science is incapable to define is termed the ‘causation of God’.

In his contributions to the symposium “Religion and the Intellectuals” in The Partisan Review (Dewey, 1950), he projected his disbelief in the supernatural substances. The only solution to embrace spiritual qualities is to reject the concepts of ‘supernatural entities’.

Dewey’s meaning of religious

The true meaning of religions according to the point of view of Dewey is “sense of the whole”. The good relationships among individual and community are considered as the true meaning of religions. Organized religions institutions have missed the true meaning of religions and always bragged about the doctrines, theory, religious faith.

In ‘common faith’ (Dewey 1934) Dewey mentioned clearly about the wholeness of religions in maintaining relationships with others in the best possible ways. In this book he has written the four major concepts:

  1. The knowledge is unified-  Forms of knowledge shouldn’t be separated from one another. The religions and science should be considered as the same. One could only ‘experience’ the wholeness and oneness of all the knowledge. The individual should search for religions in every set of experiences.
  2. Knowledge is democratic– knowledge is public and everyone can reach out for it. It doesn’t matter what method you are implying in search of truth, what matters is the inquiry of truth.
  3. The pursuit of moral ideals requires moral faith– faith is the commitment to moral principles and ideals of the society that always works for the improvements of the society. The faith in religions is, therefore, important because it helps in self-improvements.

While you still feel a sort of ‘atheist’ in accepting religions, you could anytime refine your beliefs on the actual definitions of “being religious”.

Webster(2009) summarized religions as “religion is not something that people should have but should become like the way of living.”

4. The authority of moral ideals is explored by inquiry– Every moral ideal should be for the benefit of society. If an idea is stated in doctrine, but the society doesn’t feel secure by following it, then, the ideal could be eradicated and altered for the sake of society.

John Dewey has shared in his writings the benefits of ‘experiences’ in life. We all should have experiences to inquiry the truth of knowledge at its best.

“Experience gives meaning to existence” – John Dewey

Dewey is confident that the method of inquiry would give meaning to life and refine knowledge which isn’t possible without the self-experiences. The ‘experiences’ also leads to the development of moral values in life.

To summarize, acceptance of orthodox and standardized religious hierarchy isn’t needed for spreading the concepts of morality instead ‘wholeness of knowledge’ and ‘understanding democracy’ is the sole requirements for the ignition of ‘religious beliefs’.

The religion is realizing the perfect state between actual and ideal.  Humans have always looked for the problem-solver, the ultimate helper. But, he has not tried fully to solve his problems on his own. We should search for the moral ideals in our real lives instead of expecting some supernatural power to come and cherish our life.

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