The Logic of Artifactual Existents

Edith Wyschogrod

in Crossover Queries

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226061
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235148 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

The Logic of Artifactual               Existents

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This chapter contends that John Dewey is in fact reaching for a new mode of inquiry, whose outlines are clearly visible in some richly suggestive passages in his later work, but that this method has in fact received full elaboration in the work of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, as a paradigm for understanding the principles of thought operative in the mythological consciousness of non-literate societies. This particular thought form, bricolage, plays the role of negotiator between the competing claims of nature and culture. Dewey's “instrumentalism” contrasts sharply with Lévi-Strauss's view of the primacy of structure. It is all the more striking, therefore, that the concept of bricolage, the “science of the concrete”, proves useful in bringing to conceptual clarity the artifactual character of tools or apparatus in Dewey's work, the products of qualitative thinking. The term has, of course, entered literary discourse.

Keywords: John Dewey; Claude Lévi-Strauss; bricolage; nature; culture; structure; instrumentalism

Chapter.  6193 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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