This paper rereads John Dewey’s works in the light of complexity theory and self-organizing systems. Dewey’s pragmatic inquiry is posited as inspirational for developing a logic of education and learning that would incorporate novelty and creativity, these artistic elements being part and parcel of the science of complexity. Dewey’s philosophical concepts are explored against the background of such founders of dynamical systems theory as Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Ervin Laszlo, and Erich Jantsch. If, in this process, Dewey’s thought appears to undergo some transformation, this would only confirm Jim Garrison’s (1995) belief that Dewey would welcome, in accord with his own philosophical project, the reconstruction of his own ideas so as to better respond to contingencies and challenges of new times, places, and contexts. The paper introduces some elements of non-linear dynamics, relating them to the problematic of learning and the transformation of habits. Finally, the paper addresses a delicate balance between novelty and confirmation in a self-organized system, posting it as an issue of pedagogical significance.
Research Professor. Director at Learning Change Project – Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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