Dewey's Social Ontology

When:25 Nov 2014, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Italo Testa (University of Parma)
Italo Testa

Philosophy Seminar

My aim in this paper is to reconstruct a model of social ontology in Dewey’s work, to make it explicit by means of some conceptual tools introduced by contemporary social ontology, and to illuminate some shortcomings of the latter in light of my reconstruction of the first. Deweyan social ontology could be characterized as a habit ontology, an ontology of habit qua second nature that offers us an account of intentionality, social statuses, institutions, and norms in terms of habitualizations. Such an account, although not developed in detail in Dewey’s work, offers us a promising alternative to “intentionalist” approaches to social ontology. Furthermore, it could be the basis of a social ontology better suited to incorporating a critical social philosophy, since it seems more apt to explain both the maintenance and the transformation of social reality.


Italo Testa is professor in philosophy in University of Parma, and a partner investigator of the ARC-project ‘The Social Ontology of Personhood’. He has published widely on Hegel, contemporary Hegelianism, critical theory, recognition, and related topics. His many books include the monograph La natura del riconoscimento. Riconoscimento naturale e ontologia sociale in Hegel, Mimesis, Milano, 2010 and the edited collection Lo spazio sociale della ragione. Da Hegel in avanti, Mimesis, 2009.

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