Quotable Words: John Dewey on Getting Over Things

Philosopher John Dewey (he of “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”) on the questions we find ourselves vexed over.

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 10.17.29 AM“Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more than abstract logical forms and categories. They are habits, predispositions, deeply ingrained attitudes of aversion and preference. Moreover, the conviction persists — though history shows it to be a hallucination — that all the questions that the human mind has asked are questions that can be answered in terms of the alternatives that the questions themselves present. But in fact intellectual progress usually occurs through sheer abandonment of questions together with both alternatives they assume — an abandonment that results from their decreasing vitality and a change of urgent interest. We do not solve them: we get over them.”

–John Dewey: The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy

Which for some reason (obscure to me at just this moment) seems to echo this line of Ernest Hemingway’s:

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

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