Change in Dewey’s and Aristotle’s Metaphysics

  • Clara Fischer
Part of the Breaking Feminist Waves book series (BFW)


In this chapter, the metaphysics of change takes center stage as I continue to investigate Aristotle’s thought, and examine how his hylomorphism1 overcomes the difficulties raised by Parmenides’ theorizing of opposites with its juxtaposition of mutability and immutability, Being and Not-Being, and singularity and plurality.2 Since the overarching focal point of this book lies in a depiction of selfhood that endows selves with agency, and hence with the capacity to effect change as morally responsible beings, one must first ascertain what kind of world this self exists in. A world that does not allow for mutability must also preclude mutable beings, and the ability of beings to bring about change. I therefore establish whether the world is permanent, stable, precarious, or mutable, as this provides a basis from which to theorize the self as it exists in the world.


Natural Object Aristotelian Logic Productive View Teleological Account Divine Plan 
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  1. 2.
    Randall Jr., J. H., “Dewey’s Interpretation of the History of Philosophy” in The Philosophy of John Dewey, Schilpp, P. A. (ed.), Tudor Publishing Company, New York, 1951, p. 80.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    For an in-depth study of Aristotelianism in Dewey’s metaphysics, see Boisvert, R. D., Dewey’s Metaphysics, Fordham University Press, New York, 1988. Change plays an important role in Boisvert’s analysis.Google Scholar
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    Dewey actually uses the word “sin” in his critique of Aristotle’s philosophy—see Dewey, J., “Intelligence and Morals” in The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays, Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1910, p. 50.Google Scholar
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    My analysis will draw predominantly on texts written during the Aristotelian phase, and hence post-“Aristotelian turn”—for more on this see Sleeper, R., The Necessity of Pragmatism: John Dewey’s Conception of Philosophy, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1986.Google Scholar
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    Craig Cunningham details some of the traits identified by Dewey “in Experience and Nature and elsewhere,” which number “at least 30”—see Cunningham, C. A., “The Metaphysics of Dewey’s Conception of the Self,” Philosophy of Education Society, Urbana, 1995, p. 2.Google Scholar
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    For more on Dewey and Darwin see Dewey, J., The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays, Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1910.Google Scholar

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© Clara Fischer 2014

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  • Clara Fischer

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