John Dewey on practical intelligence

For philosopher John Dewey, intelligence – knowledge in the absence of certainty – was a matter of judgement.

“A man[sic] is intelligent not in virtue of having reason which grasps first indemonstrable truths about fixed principles, in order to reason deductively from them to the particulars which they govern, but in virtue of his capacity to estimate the possibilities of a situation and to act in accordance with his estimate. In the large sense of the term intelligence is as practical as reason is theoretical”
(The Quest for Certainty, 1933: 170, quoted in Westbrook, 357)

It strikes me, reading this, that ‘the possibilities of a situation’ are not necessarily obvious, nor exhaustively explored in a given ‘estimate’. But that grid-group cultural theory offers a means of describing a fourfold  field of possibility.

The estimate is conditioned both by what is considered personally to be the limits of possibility and by the institutional context in which certain possibilities may be expressed and others may not.

Reference: Robert B. Westbrook 1993 John Dewey and American Democracy.  2nd Edn. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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