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see Dewey, JohnDewey, John,
1859–1952, American philosopher and educator, b. Burlington, Vt., grad. Univ. of Vermont, 1879, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1884. He taught at the universities of Minnesota (1888–89), Michigan (1884–88, 1889–94), and Chicago (1894–1904) and at
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the subjective idealist doctrine of the American philosopher John Dewey and his followers, a variety of pragmatism.

In the instrumentalist view, consciousness (or intelligence, in Dewey’s terms) is a means of adaptation to changing environmental conditions: logical concepts, ideas, and scientific laws and theories are all simply instruments (hence the name “instrumen-talism”), tools, “keys to situations,” or “plans for action.” In thus rejecting the objective content of knowledge and the view that truth is a reflection of material reality, instrumentalism regards truth in purely functional respects as something that “assures success in a given situation.” Taking the concept “situation” as central, instrumentalism singles out the organism (for example, an animal, a human being, or a society) and the environment as the chief aspects of a situation and declares the central problem to be the analysis of the relations between them. Insofar as the instrumentalist point of view regards environmental features as derivative from the actions of the organism, the organism appears as something primary, a view that makes it possible to characterize instrumentalism as one of the many varieties of subjective idealism.

The leading instrumentalists (Dewey, S. Hook) are active opponents of socialism and of Marxist-Leninist theory.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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