The Hegelian “permanent deposit” in John Dewey’s thought


  • Δημήτρης Αλεξάκης University of Crete



This paper analyzes the Hegelian “permanent deposit” in Dewey’s political and social thought. Following James Good’s work, the significance of Hegelian thought in Dewey’s philosophical development is pointed out. Dewey never had a clear break from the Hegelian philosophy. He overcame the British neo-Hegelianism by developing a humanitarian, anti-metaphysic interpretation of Hegel’s thought. Even though Dewey criticized Hegel in his later work, certain Hegelian elements remain in his political and social thought. Dewey supports that the Hegelian philosophy contributed to political theory and he suggests to liberal thinkers to consider this contribution in order to renovate liberalism. It is claimed that this contribution concerns his critique to individualism, his emphasis upon the significance of social institutions for the formation of individuality, his critique to the abstract character of freedom of will and his attempt to formulate a theory of actual freedom. Moreover, concerning his own apprehension of freedom, Dewey adopts certain elements from Hegel and he transforms them radically into the perspective of experimentalism. First, freedom is related to the reflection. Dewey supports that we can find the key of freedom in the experimental thinking of natural sciences. Second, freedom is not a ready-made possession of individual, as classic liberalism claims, but it is an attainment, a kind of growth. Third, individual freedom cannot be accomplished beyond society, but only in a democratically organized society. It is suggested that this analysis about the Hegelian influences in Dewey’s thought points out a significant aspect of his Hegelian “permanent deposit” and constitutes an essential preparatory work for the apprehension of his democratic ideal and his attempt to renovate liberalism.

Author Biography

Δημήτρης Αλεξάκης, University of Crete

μεταδιδακτορικός ερευνητής
Τμήμα Φιλοσοφικών και Κοινωνικών Σπουδών
Φιλοσοφική Σχολή Πανεπιστημίου Κρήτης



How to Cite

Αλεξάκης Δ. (2020). The Hegelian “permanent deposit” in John Dewey’s thought. Ariadne, (25-26), 173–197.