Biography of John Dewey

John Dewey is a popular American philosopher and psychologist known for reforming the education system.

Childhood and youth

John Dewey was born on October 20, 1859 in Burlington, Vermont. His parents were Archibald Sprague Dewey and Lucigne Artemesia Rich. He was the third of four sons in the family. His eldest brother died in infancy.

The three brothers studied at the state free school, after which the three went to Vermont University. While studying at the university, thanks to the teachings of Perkins, John became acquainted with the theory of evolution. He also studied “The Lessons of Elementary Psychology,” written by the famous English supporter of the theory of evolution, TG Huxley.

The theory of natural selection had a strong effect on Dewey’s thoughts, which allowed him to focus on the interaction of the person with the environment from the point of view of psychology. His mentor and teacher, Henry Torei, was always close with

Dewey and greatly assisted him in philosophical research.

After graduation in 1879, Dewey found a teacher in a school where he worked for two years. It was during work at the school that he realized that he would like to associate his career with philosophy. Following his desire, he sent an essay on a philosophical theme to WT Harris, who was the editor of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. The fact that Harris accepted his work gave Dewey the necessary impetus, and he moved to Baltimore where he entered the Johns Hopkins University. At the Johns Hopkins University, John Dewey came under the influence of two outstanding minds – George Sylvester Morris and Granville Stanley Hall. DS Morris was a German Hegelian philosopher who told Dewey about the characterization of the organic model of the nature of German idealism.

And GS Hall, who was an American experimental psychologist, shared with Dewey information about the power of scientific methodology and its relationship to the humanities. Dewey received his doctorate in 1884 and accepted the offer to become a teacher at the University of Michigan, where

he subsequently worked for ten years.


As a teacher in Michigan, Dewey published the first two books – “Psychology” and “Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding”. These books pointed to Dewey’s early adherence to the Hegelian ideals. In Michigan, Dewey met his future good friend and co-author in the field of philosophy, James Hayden Tufts.

In 1894, Dewey joined the state only founded by the University of Chicago.

At the same time, he moved from the ideas of early idealism to a new theory of knowledge, beginning to associate himself with only emerging pragmatic philosophy. He expressed the change of his philosophical views in the book “Thought and its essence”, together with which he also published the book “The Teaching of Logical Theory”, which included essays by other colleagues at the University of Chicago. In the laboratories of the University of Chicago, which he founded, Dewey was able to translate his ideas into a pedagogical method. These works formed the basis of his first major work in the field of education, entitled “School and Social Progress.” In the same year he was elected president of the American Psychological Society. Because of disagreements with the leadership of the University of Chicago, he had to leave the institution. But Dewey’s reputation as a psychologist helped him almost immediately find a place in Columbia University for the Faculty of Psychology, where from 1904 to 1930 – the year of his resignation – he stayed on as a teacher. In 1905, Dewey became president of the American Philosophical Society.

Late years

During the first decade at Columbia University, Dewey wrote many articles and essays on his proposed theory of knowledge and metaphysics. Later these materials were published in the books “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays on Modern Thought” and “Essays on Experimental Logic.” His interest in educational theory intensified during his stay at Columbia University. This interest subsequently led to the publication of the work “How We Think” and an important work called “Democracy and Education.” In addition to his popularity as a philosopher, Dewey also became known for his comments on contemporary issues, which were published in various popular magazines, for example, in The New Republic and Nation.

During the same period, he wrote important works such as: “Reconstruction in Philosophy,” “Human Nature and Behavior,” “Experience and Nature,” “Society and Its Problems,” and “Search for Authenticity.”

In 1930, Dewey completed his teaching activities, but did not stop dealing with philosophy and social activities. He also did not stop writing in the last years of his life. So, he wrote several important works: “Logic as a research theory”, “Art as experience”, “Common faith”, “Freedom and culture” and “Theory of evaluation”.

Personal life

John Dewey was married twice. The first time he married Alice Chipman, and they had six children. His second wife was Robert Lauwitz Grant.


John Dewey died on June 1, 1952, at the age of 92 in New York. He was buried in the Dewey Memorial, in Burlington.

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Biography of John Dewey