onsdag 23 september 2009

Zoroastrianism and Pragmatism: Dewey and Hayek

Dear Arthur

I absolutely agree!!!
Although I'm a strict pragmatist politically too and call myself a pragmatist liberal you can of course be a pragmatic libertarian too and admire Hayek as much as Dewey as a Zoroastrian. I rather see the arguments between Dewey and Hayek as arguments between friends (like on this forum) who share a basic ideological premise and merely discuss the details and consequences of their specific beliefs.
Brilliant posting too! We would love to read more form you on Ushta, Arthur! As much as your time permits!

Ushta indeed

2009/9/23 Arthur Pearlstein

I have been reading with great interest and approval the posts tying pragmatists (especially Dewey and Rorty), and process philosophers (Whitehead) to Zoroastrian thinking--I especially want to thank Dino from whom I have learned a great deal in following these posts (though he cannot be blamed for what I may not have understood well). It is very exciting to see the articulation of these connections made so clearly and persuasively, and it has helped me reflect on and reaffirm my own personal brand of Zoroastrianism which is largely based on my own fascination with both pragmatic and process approaches. As I have written before, Ahura Mazda works as a kind of “process” through asha and the infinite variety we experience in this world of accelerating change is the expression of asha. The Zoroastrian future perspective, which offers, in the spirit of Rorty, an ever-deepening array of joy-producing delightful (and surprising) things, is a process and something more—it is life itself.

I did want to point out that, notwithstanding Alexander’s mention of Dewey’s “fights with Hayek” and the division between pragmatists and libertarians, that there are those of us who admire both Dewey and Hayek and who consider themselves libertarian pragmatists (or pragmatic libertarians). In fact, I believe that process thinking, sharpened by the more recently developed interest in complexity theory and dynamic, adaptive systems, forms a compelling connection between pragmatism and libertarianism, and between the most attractive features of all these approaches, on the one hand, and Zoroastrianism, on the other.

Hayek saw social/political/economic orders as constantly evolving processes—self-creative and radically free. As nicely put in the interview with Ames that Dino supplied, thinking from a true process perspective involves “appreciating the emergence and the open-endedness of the human experience;” this could have easily been spoken by Hayek. And I think Dewey would agree with Hayek (and be right in line with process and Zoroastrian thinking) in rejecting the top-down rule of social planners and preferring institutions that arise through complex, adaptive processes—that evolve—over those that are “intelligently designed” (notwithstanding the Ames comment in the same interview that Dewey “believes in intelligent design” that is “the responsibility of human beings”—I think this is slightly misleading in the sense that “intelligent design” has come to imply a kind of grand design, of which no one—neither “God” nor human beings—is capable; it is correct in the more limited, literal sense of humans intentionally “designing” experiments, for example).

In the context of applying these ideas to “democracy,” I think they have much in common in seeing the project of liberal democracy as a dynamic, adaptive process contingently emerging under uncertain conditions.

There are, of course, differences between and among these thinkers and their ideas. What I especially like about Zoroastrian thinking is that, in an elegant way, it seems to take the best of these concepts and tie it into a philosophy of life that is radically participatory—a philosophy that, in effect, views itself as a kind of (democratic) process.



On Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 9:42 AM, Special Kain wrote:

Dewey was even closer to Zoroastrian thought than Peirce, James and Rorty altogether!
So far I don't know anything about the link between him and Whitehead, only between him and Rorty (who's a neo-Deweyan).
This is an interview with Roger Ames on both Dewey's and Whitehead's philosophy:


Ushta, Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am Fr, 18.9.2009:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: Re: [Ushta] Zoroastrianism and pragmatism: John Dewey
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Freitag, 18. September 2009, 15:02

I love Dewey!!!
His fights with Hayek are legendary and began the creative division among liberals we have seen since then: The dividion between pragmatists and libertarians.
Needles to say, John Dewey is the single thinker who has inspired Barack Obama the most.
But what was the relationship really between Dewey and the other great American proto-Zoroastrian of the same age, Alfred North Whitehead?

2009/9/18 Special Kain

Dear friends,

We already discovered the link between Zoroastrian philosophy and pragmatism (Charles S. Peirce, Richard Rorty) several months ago, but we haven't mentioned John Dewey yet. Dewey's take on pragmatism is quite similar to the pro-science pantheism within Zoroastrianism, especially his views on science, art, ethics, democracy, education and civilizationism.

http://www.iep. utm.edu/dewey/


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