Dewey saw how mental life and the physical were mutually constituted. This goes beyond “a sound mind in a sound body”, to say that the aspects of the world that are meaningful to us are those which we construct, while at the same time we are products of the physical and social worlds we inhabit. A word such as “inhabit” is too weak; for Dewey, we are part and parcel of a situation. This descriptive account of human life leads to a conception of learning as a search for meaning; action in the world merges with thought as a process of art:
To feel the meaning of what one is doing, and to rejoice in that meaning; to unite in one concurrent fact the unfolding of the inner life and the ordered development of material conditions-that is art (Dewey, 1906, p. 292).
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Dewey, John (1977). Essays on the new empiricism 1903-1906. In Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), The Middle Works of John Dewey, Volume 3. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press.
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