Robert Pirsig and his bike [click to enlarge]

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Pirsig PhD Introduction


MOQ Textbook Introduction


MOQ Conference Papers:

Robert Pirsig's Welcome Speech

Dr McWatt's Handout

Henry Gurr's Handout

Ian Glendinning's Paper

David Buchanan's Paper

Mati Palm-Leis's Paper

Gavin Gee-Clough's Paper

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper


Other papers on this website:

Evolution, Time & Order Paper

The 1993 AHP transcript-Part One

Selections from the 1993 AHP transcript

PhD Commentary

An Open Letter to Sam Harris

Art & the MOQ by Robert Pirsig

An Introduction to
 Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality

An MOQ Summary by Robert Pirsig

Khoo Hock Aun's Paper

David Buchanan's Art & Morality Paper

Pirsig Annotations on Copleston

Gavin Gee-Clough's "Brisbane Winter" Paper 

 Henry Gurr's MOQ presentation


Sneddon Thesis

- Part One


Sneddon Thesis - Part Two

David Buchanan's 2006 Paper

Observer Interview

Notes on the tetralemma

The MOQ & Education

Pirsig & Pragmatism

Chai at the Lazy Lounge




Teaching Aesthetics and Aesthetic Teaching:

 Towards a Deweyan Perspective


David A. Granger

School of Education

State University of New York, Geneseo


    The educational writings of John Dewey continue to be invoked by scholars in education on a regular basis and in relation to a wide variety of issues, from social learning theory and situated cognition to constructivism and whole-language literacy instruction. More recently, this scholarship has begun to expand to include books and essays that look to tie Dewey’s aesthetics to his work in education in a substantive way. Notably, this is not something that Dewey attempted himself, since his major work in aesthetics, Art as Experience, was not published until he was seventy-five and he seemingly had neither the time nor means at that point in his life to develop this link to his satisfaction. In addition, many educators are only familiar with Dewey’s more explicitly educational writings, most of which came earlier in his career and tend to speak more of the merits of science than of art. As a result, scholars in education have only recently begun to examine the possible significance of Dewey’s aesthetics for the practices of teaching and learning.[1] 

    It is still the case, however, that writers on Dewey have traditionally focused their critical energies on his expansive claims for “the method of science” as a vehicle for solving numerous educational and social problems, and as the only authentic means of learning about our everyday world. Such critical attention is not, I believe, without warrant; though Dewey’s use of “science” was a very loose and liberal one and he was a staunch critic of the positivistic model of science often presumed by these writers. Nonetheless, this critical focus has unfortunately led many writers to dismiss or marginalize the Dewey who, for instance, proclaims in "Art in Education -- and Education in Art" that the Modern preoccupation with science and with industry based on science has been disastrous; our education has followed the model that they have set. It has been concerned with intellectual analysis and formularized information….It is disastrous because it has fixed attention upon competition for control and possession of a fixed environment rather than upon what art can do to create an environment…. It is disastrous because civilization built upon these principles cannot supply the demand of the soul for joy, or freshness of experience; only attention through art to the vivid but transient values of things can effect such refreshment.[2]  

    As Dewey sees it, science and other forms of knowledge are properly “handmaidens” to art, intellectual tools for enhancing the overall quality and value of human life and activity.[3] This means that they are largely subordinate to the direct qualitative meaning of experience. They are, Dewey says, transformed in aesthetic experience in that they are “merged with non-intellectual elements to form an experience worth while as an experience.”[4] Art objects may well be the most potent and ready source of such enhanced, aesthetic experience, being intentionally created to refine and intensify in certain ways the experience of the perceiver. But they are not, to Dewey’s way of thinking, the sole or even principal medium of the aesthetic. Art, he tells us, is best seen more liberally as ”a quality that permeates an experience,“ whereby, in any number of life contexts, the meanings of objects and events become “the matter of a clarified, coherent, and intensified or ‘impassioned’ experience” (AE, 329, 295). If all of this can be taken to mean that art or the aesthetic, and not science, is paradigmatic of optimal human experience, then current efforts to integrate Dewey’s aesthetics with his thinking about education are an important endeavor and one that should bear considerable fruit.  Then, too, much of the popular literature in art and aesthetic education, which situates art and the aesthetic squarely within the cognitive domain of experience, is significantly at odds with Dewey’s radically wholistic and vigorously anti-elitist aesthetics.[5]

    Accordingly, this essay will explore the idea of aesthetic education – conceived in its broadest sense -- using a mainly Deweyan lens. Moreover, it will do so by examining everyday classroom practices as they are informed by the general social and philosophical culture of education. For it is here, Dewey suggests, that the limitations of conventional thinking about the arts might take their greatest toll on students’ prospects for developing a wide range of richly funded experiences. To make the discussion more contextual and concrete than Dewey’s highly conceptual texts themselves permit, we will try to imagine what this Deweyan alternative might look like -- its problems and possibilities -- through selected scenes from Robert Pirsig’s autobiographical Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.[6] In these brief scenes, Pirsig (the narrator) is working to recall some of his past successes and failures in making qualitative immediacy, as the primary media of aesthetic education, a working concept in the teaching of college freshman English. Like Dewey, Pirsig holds to the primacy in experience of the immediate qualitative world. He also sees himself as very much an exponent of the pragmatist tradition in philosophy.[7]

Quality and Context

    Pirsig begins his recollections by telling us that his initial assignment to teach several sections of freshman English – or rhetoric -- had created what appeared for a time an intractable problem. The problem, as Pirsig then saw it, was essentially this: How, especially given his own deeply analytical mind, could he effectively teach something like rhetoric, "the most unprecise, unanalytic, amorphous area in the entire [University]"? (ZMM, 156). How, as he would later put it, could he to teach Quality?[8]   The truth be told, Pirsig knew very well what the preponderance of the English department faculty expected of him: “What you're supposed to do in most freshman-rhetoric courses is to read a little essay or short story, discuss how the writer has done certain little things to achieve certain little effects, and then have the students write an imitative little essay or short story to see if they can do the same little things” (ZMM, 156). This highly formalistic approach to teaching rhetoric was relatively painless to put into practice, Pirsig knew. And yet it always seemed much less than satisfactory to him; and he could speak from firsthand experience.

    Pirsig had tried using “calculated mimicry” of this sort in his teaching any number of times, but on each occasion a dispiriting mediocrity would eventually result. The students seldom achieved anything remotely close to the models they were given. Typically, in fact, their writing exhibited an overall decrease in quality. The most daunting problem was that every "little" rule of composition Pirsig attempted to teach them was “so full of exceptions and contradictions and qualifications and confusions that he wished he’d never come across the rule in the first place” (ZMM, 156). And when the students did manage to apply one of the rules correctly, it often seemed "pasted on to the writing after the writing was all done. It was post hoc, after the fact, instead of prior to the fact" (ZMM, 156). Yet Pirsig was convinced that the high-quality writers the students were asked to imitate worked without a premeditated regard for these formal rules. They had plainly already developed an immediate sense of the aesthetics of composition; they used previously refined habits to put down “whatever sounded right [and] then [went] back to see if it still sounded right and chang[ed] it if it didn’t” (ZMM, 156). The efforts of those writers who wrote with calculated premeditation, on the other hand, characteristically "had a certain syrup, as Gertrude Stein once said, but didn't pour" (ZMM, 156).

    Pirsig’s problem, then, looked much like the proverbial chicken or egg paradox. Form and content – one or the other must seemingly be preeminent in teaching rhetoric, even though they obviously cannot function independently. Is placing form before content really the better strategy here? he asked himself. Or is the opposite maybe the case? It was the dualistic logic of an age-old dilemma. Like Dewey before him, Pirsig would soon learn to distrust such either/or formulations.[9]

    The turning point here was Pirsig’s increasing awareness that (to use Dewey’s terminology) qualities are innately contextual, the function of a larger situational whole. Since they are both concrete and existential, they cannot survive on their own uneviscerated. "When you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof. There’s nothing to talk about," is how he had put it (ZMM, 163). With this important realization Pirsig moved to scrap the whole conventional approach to teaching rhetoric. Up to now he had felt “compelled by the academic system to say what he wanted” from the students, but it greatly disturbed him that those “who went along with [the] rules were then condemned for their inability to be creative or produce [high-quality] work. Now that was over with” (ZMM, 187).

    About midway through Art as Experience, Dewey identifies for us the means of a possible alternative to these conventions. It accords well, I believe, with the new trajectory that Pirsig’s teaching was about to take: 

If art is an intrinsic quality of activity, we cannot divide and subdivide it…. Not only is it impossible that language should duplicate the infinite variety of individualized qualities that exist, but it is wholly undesirable and unneeded that it should do so. The unique quality of a quality is found in experience itself; it is there and sufficiently there not to need reduplication in language. The latter serves its scientific or its intellectual purpose as it gives directions as to how to come upon these qualities in experience. The more generalized and simple the direction the better. The more uselessly detailed they are, the more they confuse instead of guiding. But words serve their poetic purpose in the degree in which they summon and evoke into active operation the vital responses that are present whenever we experience qualities. (AE, 218-220, my emphases) 

    Generalized and simple direction, vital responses -- Pirsig had essentially come upon this same distinction between the intellectual and poetic uses of language with respect to Quality. And it now made him realize that Quality can only be taught from the inside out; that is, by creating a situation in which the students come to participate in an experience in some immediately meaningful way, as its aesthetic possibilities and qualitative features are emerging. Only then, it seemed to him, can they learn to recognize and appreciate Quality without being forced to break it into divisions like form and content. The key is to find a pedagogically effective means of subverting the ancient dogma (one of Socrates’ fabled bequests) that "all things which are to be taught must first be defined" (ZMM, 187). Put differently, Pirsig needed somehow to make Quality real to his students, to show it to them in an immediately felt, dramatic way: not the accidental phenomenon of private mental states, but a vital dimension of the everyday world. He needed to expose and undermine the students’ equation of the real with the discursively known or knowable. Pirsig did not know straightaway how exactly to accomplish this, but he did have some ideas about what kind of environment and activities it might call for.[10]

Unified Activity

    We have seen that Pirsig had made an honest effort to teach his sections of freshman-rhetoric from within the prescribed form/content configuration. He had even adhered to the official pedagogy as outlined in the official English department textbook. The results were clearly unsatisfactory. Somehow, then, Pirsig needed to break out of the prevailing dualistic pattern of thinking (ZMM, 162). I say pattern, here, because Pirsig came to believe that such thinking was virtually mandated by the academy and in a host of different ways – most grievously, perhaps, in how the self-world relationship was to be conceived.

    This belief first began to take root when Pirsig noticed a strong correlation between predominantly mimetic approaches to teaching and assessment and more instrumental conceptions of the ends of education. For some curious reason (which he had yet to flesh out) the principal ends here exist almost entirely outside of the learning process itself, typically as preparation for some remote and distant future.[11] Rarely are they treated as ends-in-view for the direct enhancement of present experience. A computer chip storing up information for possible retrieval at a later date is more like it. In any case, Pirsig found very little in this agenda acknowledging his conviction that, as Dewey argues in Democracy and Education,  

[education] has all the time an immediate end, and so far as activity is educative, it reaches that end -- the direct transformation of the quality of experience. Infancy, youth, adult life, -- all stand on the same educative level in the sense that what is really learned at any and every stage of experience constitutes the value of that experience, and in the sense that it is the chief business of life at every point to make living thus contribute to an enrichment of its own perceptible meaning.[12]  

Dewey then goes on to say that even the most instrumental of educational activities "at some phase of its development should possess, what is for the individual concerned with it, an aesthetic quality" (DE, 258). In other words, instrumental and intrinsic meaning must complement each other in a genuinely educative experience.

    This was sadly not what Pirsig perceived when he reflected on what was going on around him. To the contrary, he felt that the whole degree and grading system in its present configuration encouraged both teachers and students to conceive of the curriculum and its significance in isolation from an essentially static self (ZMM, 172). And it did so by presupposing a fundamental breach between self and world -- the root cause of Quality's inferior ontological status within post-Cartesian philosophy. From this perspective, education is something that happens to you in the process of absorbing information and ideas that exist “out there” somewhere rather than in the natural and socio-cultural world of which you are a part. Quality thus appears as a subjective intrusion on what are taken to be the objective contents of true education. But how could this subordination of the self to something existing beyond it not greatly impoverish the perceptible meaning and value of the learning experience? Pirsig would conduct another informal experiment with the freshman rhetoric class. 

    Pirsig’s first task was to formulate a testable hypothesis. Translated into the Deweyan idiom, it had eventually read something like this: Students’ own felt needs will naturally occasion genuine interest and effort in a manner prohibited by more external kinds of motivation. Their motivation will come chiefly from within (ZMM, 174-177). His deceptively simple plan to test this was to draw greater attention to some of the immediate benefits of high-quality learning experiences by eliminating letter grades from his students' papers (he did, however, intend to provide copious written feedback). Then, over the course of the quarter, Pirsig would note any positive changes in the students’ attitudes towards their work. The whole thing sounded perfectly logical to him. But here again, convincing the class that this was a rational, educationally sound idea proved to be rather more difficult than he had foreseen.

    His announced plan invoked a nonplussed reaction from most of the students: “The majority probably figured they were stuck with some idealist who thought removal of grades would make them happier and thus work harder, when it was obvious that without grades everyone would just loaf” (ZMM, 170). Others responded much more negatively. As one student said, with admirable candor, "’Of course you can't eliminate the degree [or] grading system. After all, that's what we're here for'" (ZMM, 174). Pirsig was forced to admit to that there was more than a little truth in this, as disturbing as it was: “The idea that the majority of students attend a university for an education independent of the degree and grades is a little hypocrisy everyone is happier not to expose” (ZMM, 174). He apparently considered this all the more reason to proceed with the experiment. 

    From the outset things did not look terribly promising. The students’ initial response to the experiment was pretty much as Pirsig had predicted – unrepentant apathy. Those from whom he had come to expect A quality work towed-the-line as usual, most likely out of "acquired self-discipline," he figured (ZMM, 177). Though many of them were noticeably upset at not being rewarded with their rightfully earned letter grades. The B and high-C students, however, began to show a precipitous decline in their efforts, either failing to complete assignments or handing in visibly slipshod work. Worse yet, several of the low-C and D students stopped coming to class altogether. Pirsig’s unorthodox, laissez-faire attitude towards this poor showing first prompted puzzlement, then suspicion, then outright sarcasm, especially from some of the more insolent students. But Pirsig kept telling himself to remain patient; he anticipated that the situation would slowly but surely improve in the weeks ahead (ZMM, 177).   The fact is that Pirsig believed he could develop a sufficient explanation for this sorry state of affairs. There was really no great mystery here. The students’ apathy, he maintained, could be traced to certain pernicious habits that had resulted from a systematic separation of self (subject) and world (object) in the classroom, habits that would need to be remade before things could begin to show any perceptible improvement. He had explained it this way: 

The student[s'] biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into [them] by years of carrot-and-whip grading, a mule mentality which said, 'If you don't whip me, I won't work.' [They] didn't get whipped. [They] didn't work. And the cart of civilization, which [they] supposedly [were] being trained to pull, was just going to have to creak along a little slower without [them]. (ZMM, 175) 

Ironically, Pirsig thought, this is in direct contradiction to the academy’s claim that civilization “is best served not by mules but by free men” (ZMM, 175). And education is supposedly the means to this freedom.  As tragic as this slave mentality sounds, Pirsig saw that it is unavoidable only if one presumes that the cart of civilization must be propelled by something outside itself, by disinterested mule-selves. Whether these mules are in front of or behind the cart matters little here. In either position, they bespeak of stubborn, laboring beasts – the polar opposite of artistically-engaged human beings -- beasts that have no immediate investment in or sense of connection to the larger cart of civilization. This means that carrots (grades, monetary awards, amusements, special privileges) and whips (punitive threats) are necessary to keep them in line -- what in the vernacular of education is often called being "on task." External stimuli and behavioral conditioning become the accepted means to an external end. Take them away and, like Pirsig’s students, the mules protest forlornly or, being inherently passive animals, promptly fall into a torpor. But Pirsig had no desire to punish or cast off his student mules in abolishing grades (ZMM, 175). In fact he was convinced that the whole cart-mule analogy was at once ill-conceived and educationally destructive.   

    I suspect that Dewey would once again concur with Pirsig’s take on the situation. In any number of places, he speaks about the difficulties issuing from the kind of presumed self-world separation endemic to the cart-mule picture. In Interest and Effort in Education, where he addresses the matter most directly, Dewey scrutinizes the two most popular methods of compensating for these difficulties, and then suggests a radically different picture of the self-world relationship: 

The common assumption is that of the externality of the object, idea, or end to be mastered to the self. Because the object or end is assumed to be outside self it has to be made interesting; to be surrounded with artificial stimuli and with fictitious inducements to attention. Or, because the object lies outside the sphere of self, the sheer power of 'will,' the putting forth of effort without interest, has to be appealed to. [But] the principle of genuine interest is the principle of the recognized identity of the fact to be learned or the action proposed with the growing self; that it lies in the direction of the agent's own growth, and is, therefore, imperiously demanded, if the agent is to be himself. Let this condition of identification once be secured, and we have neither to appeal to sheer strength of will, nor occupy ourselves with making things interesting. [13]  

    Dewey maintains that the motivation for learning cannot be located in either the student or the subject-matter taken in isolation from one another. As soon as the two are treated independently, as self-contained existences, the psychology of unified activity is short-circuited. Unified activity allows experience to reach the point of consummation or closure rather than just stopping or terminating at random. It provides experience with its own self-sustaining purpose and momentum. Yet in situations where discontinuity is imposed on the self-world relationship, interest and effort must be invoked by artificial means such that neither can possibly be genuine nor wholehearted. In extreme cases, the demonstration of brute effort alone becomes the avowed objective. This is where the habits of Pirsig’s so-called "mule mentality" are formed -- the product, says Dewey, of a fundamentally miseducative and anaesthetic, dualistic psychology.

    Dewey concludes his critique with the observation that, in the end, both of these artificial means of keeping students on task merely create habits of divided attention, a division of energies. The students are being asked to think about or focus on one thing while (in theory at least) doing or learning another (IE, 159-160). In short, they are trying to serve two masters at the same time -- the motivation for doing the activity and the activity itself – though neither can be attended to wholeheartedly, thus encouraging a disinterested spectator attitude or mule mentality (DE, 183). For Dewey, this is a posture very much antithetical to the cultivation of aesthetic experience.

    Dewey goes on to say that the fatal flaw in the cart-mule picture is its failure to recognize that Pirsig’s student mules are in reality not purely passive or purely indifferent, waiting upon stimulation from without…The [mule], in other words, is always already moving toward one [thing] rather than the other. No amount of physical cross-eyedness could induce such mental cross-eyedness that the animal would be in a condition of equal stimulation from both sides. Wherever there is life there is activity, an activity having some tendency or direction of its own. (IE, 161)  Interest always brings with it certain active tendencies. And the very "ideal of interest," Dewey contends, "is exemplified in the artistic attitude" (DE, 142). Rather than dividing our energies -- the current state of Pirsig’s student mules -- it guides our attentions and efforts in a purposive direction; it spurs us to work towards some unified activity, an activity whose significance for the self is rooted within present experience.

    Having often observed the pernicious effects of this division of energies in his own classroom, Pirsig was looking to reconstruct his students’ cart-mule habits. He wanted to develop an environment in which interest and effort originated together out of the natural impulse to pursue meaning and value in their lives; or, to be more specific, to have the students recognize the continuity between the ability to create and appreciate high-quality writing and the felt needs of a growing self (ZMM, 176, 178). Thus far, movement in this direction had obviously been minimal at best.

    This is not to suggest that Pirsig had anticipated an instant turnaround. He understood how pervasive and deeply entrenched this mule mentality had become. Additionally, neither he nor Dewey would ever claim that it is possible to create a classroom environment where each activity is at every moment enjoyable and immediately fulfilling. Or even that it will necessarily conclude that way. This is not only pedagogically naïve, they would tell us, it also overlooks the complexly amorphous nature of the situational contexts of experience, including those in more structured environments like classrooms. Unified activity is, after all, a hard-won achievement, not a predestined unfolding of events. Any number of things, both internal and external, can frustrate its development. Sometimes these complications prove minor or can be utilized as a novel phase within the activity, perhaps even enhancing its meaning. But many other times one’s best efforts here will not be enough. Yet Dewey and Pirsig still want to say that consummatory experiences should act as the educator's guiding end-in-view, and that they are always somewhat compromised by the "time-honored paraphernalia of rewards and punishments," by carrots and whips (DE, 345). Not only did such paraphernalia condition Pirsig’s students to work for a grade rather than for a sense of personal growth and accomplishment, it also encouraged them to look upon themselves as individual winners or losers instead of members of a cooperative community.

    His patience wearing thin, Pirsig eventually had to admit that his experiment could only carry him so far towards his desired goal. Something further needed to be done if he was to take the next step. He began to see that withholding letter grades until the end of the quarter was not by itself going to promote high-quality learning experiences for the students. While it was obviously doing a lot to frustrate their old habits of divided attention, withholding grades was not, for those who had not given up on the class altogether, doing much in the way of fostering new, more fruitful ones. And without the latter, the students were actually going to think about grades  -- or more accurately, their disturbing absence -- with greater frequency, not less. The new grading procedures may have elicited greater student effort, but the mule mentality was definitely still very much alive. To take that next step, Pirsig would have to try out some of his new and untested instructional strategies.

The Space of Something, Perhaps

    We have seen that Pirsig had purposely refused to do something that his students had learned to anticipate and depend upon through all their years of schooling: They had always been told in quite specific terms what was required of them in their coursework. Pirsig knew this from when he was a young student, and he hypothesized that, like him, most of them probably had precious few school experiences where they were invited to work in an atmosphere wholly accepting of chance and uncertainty. Preplanned objectives, procedures, and assessments had provided an extensively choreographed place for them in the past, where they could be assured of a particular result if each specified activity was performed correctly or incorrectly. Pirsig was willing to accept that a certain degree of structure is crucial to any educative environment. He understood that students are no different than teachers in needing an end-in-view, some conception of what they are supposed to be working towards, what possible means are available, and what it will look like when and if that end is achieved. However Pirsig was concerned that too many and inflexible preconceptions had actually prevented his students from learning how to be vulnerable and take chances with their work, especially, of course, in the presence of others. As pragmatist literary critic Richard Poirier might say, the students had not had the opportunity to learn how to "live with others in a space of expectation rather than deferral, the space of 'something, perhaps.'"[14] What they had seemingly learned, conversely, was that "originality... could get you anything -- from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it" (ZMM, 172). In other words, the students had been taught to defer to and accept the skeptical “something less” of the safe and reliable thing to do. Having recognized this predicament, Pirsig figured that the most promising way to try and relieve this inhibition would be to let the class witness and share in his own experience of uncertainty and liability as a writer.  Since the topic was one in which the students were now deeply invested and had already given considerable thought, Pirsig selected “an argument for eliminating grades” as his writing "demonstrator." He would work it up very gradually, "day by day, in front of and with the help of the class":   

He used the demonstrator to avoid talking in terms of principles of composition, all of which he had deep doubts about. He felt that by exposing classes to his own sentences as he made them, with all the misgivings and hang-ups and erasures, he would give a more honest picture of what writing was like than by spending class time picking nits in completed student work or holding up the completed work of masters for emulation. (ZMM, 173) 

   High-quality writing cannot be reduced to an assemblage of fixed principles, and it seldom comes easily or quickly. Everyone takes a wrong turn now and again, the "teacher of Quality" included. That, Pirsig trusted, would be a valuable lesson in and of itself.

    Among the several things that I imagine Pirsig was attempting to show his students is that the work of good writing requires permitting yourself to stumble down a few unfamiliar pathways. It means venturing into that indeterminate space where your ideas are still inarticulate and the vague presentiments of various words and phrases (as William James might put it) seem to be pulling your thoughts now “here,” then “there.” It means that you must be willing to put something down on the page before you are really sure of what it is you want to say. And you have to trust that what is there one minute can always be refused, refined, or replaced the next.

    These provisions also suggest that Pirsig had been demonstrating for the students that writing is truly a dialogical, as opposed to a monological, activity. That is to say, writing naturally presupposes the imagined voice and presence of others. When sitting down to write, the "right" words will never be found by simply connecting in your mind ideas that have some prior and independent existence, as though language is, to quote Dewey, no more than a "mechanical go-between," like "a pipe conducts water" (EN, 134). The “right” words must instead be discovered, (re)animated, and (re)affirmed within the communal language-games that make up our shared linguistic practices. To be a good writer, you thus need to be a good reader as well; you need to have a sense for not only your own presence in your words but your imagined reader's as well. Pirsig, accordingly, was helping his students see that putting words down on the page serves as a way of putting them in play in the world, trying them out to see if and how they work in a given dialogical context. What makes something a high-quality piece of writing is not only the quality of your ideas, it is also the quality of participatory experience you are able to foster through those ideas with your reader(s) -- whether the piece has both "a certain syrup" and "pours" well. In short, writing (like art) only finds its fulfillment in being read (or perceived).

    This idea of fostering shared experience through writing also sheds additional light on the form/content issue that Pirsig had been wrestling with earlier on in the quarter; namely, the inadequacy of teaching rhetoric with the "calculated premeditation" of a "by-the-numbers, objective, methodical approach" (ZMM, 162, 156). What the idea tells us, I think, is this: Methodical approaches to rhetoric will likely hinder the writer from acknowledging and responding to the different ways different kinds of readers either can or cannot participate in what she is saying. This is because they tend to presuppose a static picture of the readers' presence in the writer's words, treating each reader, like each subject-matter, as a generic other. A hypothetical reader is automatically inferred to stand in for all individual or groups of readers. Effectively suppressed, as a result, is any direct sense of personal responsibility for how one's words will be experienced by the reader. Yet philosopher Stanley Cavell argues that taking responsibility for our words is how we underwrite ourselves as language users. We must repeatedly ask ourselves, "Are these words my words?" We must learn to own up to them in the process of becoming intelligible to one another and hence to ourselves, and by actively weighing them against our convictions, not mindlessly taking others’ expressions for our own.[15]

    It seems to me that the loosely choreographed scene of instruction that Pirsig staged and then acted out with his class could be interpreted as an initiation into this lifelong process of education. Unlike the approved rhetoric textbook, he did not profess to be disseminating sure-fire principles or "rules to rebel against, not ultimates in themselves, but just techniques...for producing what really counted -- Quality" (ZMM, 186). Pirsig had exchanged the dogma of “useless and confusing details” for “generalized and simple direction” (AE, 219). Moreover, he did this by dramatizing, in a concrete situation, how various rhetorical techniques can encourage and guide reader participation. And he enlisted the students themselves as participant observers, as members of the community of language users he claimed (implicitly) to be representing: “He singled out aspects of Quality such as unity, vividness, authority, economy, sensitivity, clarity, emphasis, flow, suspense, brilliance, precision, proportion, depth and so on; kept each of these as poorly defined as Quality itself, but demonstrated them by the same class [exercise]” (ZMM, 186).

    Pirsig’s choice of “an argument for eliminating grades” as his demonstrator topic had a distinct advantage here. It would give his students an immediate and vivid appreciation for why reader participation is so crucial to high-quality writing. The different words and phrases he tried out with them were shown to be much more than mechanical go-betweens. Rather, the students could see firsthand, through their own dispositions towards the subject, that each expressed a different kind of relationship with the world and the larger human community. In composing the argument together with the class, Pirsig had therefore allowed himself to be read by his (and their) words. And by doing so before a group of participants, he was in effect enacting the mutual acknowledgment of writer and reader. He was teaching his students how to inhabit their words so as to become more responsive to the full freight of their possible meanings.

    With this new instructional strategy, Pirsig had finally taken that next step in teaching Quality. The class's overriding inhibition to entering the precarious space of "something, perhaps" was now on the decline. Working in a more open-ended environment was proving for many students a welcome opportunity to take a larger share of investment in the quality of their writing. They were starting to learn how to check their words against their developing beliefs and convictions, owning up to them: “He had wanted his students to become creative by deciding for themselves what was good writing instead of asking him all the time. The real purpose of withholding the grades was to force them to look within themselves, the only place they would ever get a really right answer” (ZMM, 179-180). This was the result that Pirsig was looking for in inviting the class to share in his own sense of uncertainty and liability as a writer. Its value seemed obvious considering the mule mentality he had initially to work with, and the predictable (positivistic) criticism that things were becoming too "subjective" was no longer any real concern to him.    

    Pirsig believed that he could now detect indications of the type of genuine interest that he had been working towards -- not with all of the students, for sure, and not with every passing moment. But there was presently suffusing the classroom a growing perception that what he had to offer the students was addressing certain felt needs, that it was helping them to expand their horizons of meaning and revitalize their sense of connectedness with the world and with one another. Piece by piece, day by day the mule mentality was starting to relax its stubborn grip. The value of learning to respond to other human beings as language users was no longer confined to fulfilling what had once seemed arbitrary institutional norms and expectations; it could be seen and felt in the here and now (ZMM, 186).

    Just as the quarter was coming to a close, Pirsig decided to risk asking each of the students to compose a candid essay evaluating his system of withholding grades. (None of them knew at this point what his or her grade for the term would be.) The results, given the changes that Pirsig had seen over the last few weeks, were somewhat surprising -- and disappointing as well. Some thirty-seven percent of the students wrote what he deemed to be positive evaluations, nine percent sounded basically neutral, while a fateful fifty-four percent were decidedly negative. As difficult as it was for him, Pirsig had little choice but to conclude that “the system was very unpopular. The majority of the students definitely wanted their grades as they went along" (ZMM, 178). While many believed that they had learned some valuable lessons from the experience, and that it had gotten them more interested in the subject-matter, most all of the students confessed that the gradeless class just "wasn't easy to get used to" (ZMM, 178). Some kinds of transformations, again, are more difficult to bring about than others. This was especially true of the (eventual) D's and F's, for whom the space of "something, perhaps" had too often felt like "a huge and frightening vacuum":  

[They were] forced to wonder each day what [they were] really learning.  The questions, What's being taught? What's the goal? How do the lectures and assignments accomplish the goal? [had] become ominous. (ZMM, 179) 

    Though Pirsig was not willing to draw any "hard conclusions" from several dozen student evaluations, grades would return to English 101 the very next quarter (ZMM, 179, 180). Yet this did not mean that he would completely surrender the promise of his new instructional practices. On other occasions he was much more successful in helping students to fill this vacuum. It seems that many times they had been suffering from what philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein would call acute “aspect blindness.”[16]

A Single Ordinary (Extraordinary) Brick

    On one of these occasions, Pirsig had found himself standing before a roomful of students who insisted that they had nothing to say in their papers. Thinking first of the familiar mule mentality, Pirsig’s initial reaction was to attribute this creative inertia to a chronic lack of effort. Only later did he come to understand that the problem lay in a somewhat different area, though it likewise underscored Dewey’s arguments for the importance of the education of habit. The pivotal clue finally came to light through the struggles of one particular student, a girl described only as wearing “thick-lensed glasses" (ZMM, 170).

    Pirsig had in recent weeks gotten used to the "sinking feeling" that would surface whenever his students could not find paper topics or proposed topics that were plainly inappropriate. But this time things really hit rock bottom. The girl with thick-lensed glasses seemed completely powerless to visualize a writing assignment in any other way than a dubious "five-hundred-word essay about the United States" (ZMM, 170). What was worse, given this severe intellectual impairment, she showed genuine interest in becoming a high-quality writer. Pirsig was led to believe that her previous schooling experiences had somehow regrettably contributed to (or at least not precluded) the formation of narrow, inflexible habits of interpreting and making sense of the world around her. As far as he was concerned, in fact, she had been "trained not to see," or to be more precise, to see only through the pallid lenses of a detached subject-object conception of things (ZMM, 5). This meant that she was restricted to a very limited palette of meaning-enhancing ways of perceiving her environment, one confined principally to the instrumental value of things. Hers was a contracted rather than expansive, poetic self. And so she naturally figured that the larger the canvas, the easier to find something interesting to say, and chose the broadest paper topic she could come up with. Having observed this kind of strategy before, and knowing that it would probably fail, Pirsig suggested that she confine her topic to "just Bozeman" (ZMM, 170). Papers finally came due, but she still had nothing to turn in with the rest of her classmates: “Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, were the eyes of a drudge. She wasn't bluffing him, she really couldn't think of anything to say, and was upset by her inability to do as she was told” (ZMM, 170).

    Pirsig had made an effort to consult with a number of her former instructors, and they confirmed that she was indeed a diligent worker and conscientious about her studies. But they had also unanimously decided that she was by nature uncreative, and so they quickly gave up on her. As they had explained it, “She was very serious, disciplined and hardworking, but extremely dull. Not a spark of creativity in her anywhere” (ZMM, 170). From what Pirsig tells us about himself, we know that he had come to regard all such appeals to inherent strengths and weaknesses with more than a little suspicion. They were frequently overused, he thought, seemed mistakenly to presuppose an antecedently given, static self, and provided a convenient way to dismiss students who had for whatever reason not performed according to expectations. Because of this, Pirsig was not willing to risk throwing in the towel before all other avenues had been exhausted.  And yet as she had stood before him, a desperate, uncomprehending look on her face, the situation “just stumped him. Now he couldn’t think of anything to say. A silence occurred, and then a peculiar insight: ‘Narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman.' It was a stroke of insight” (ZMM, 170). Or was it? 

She nodded dutifully and went out. But just before her next class she came back in real distress, tears this time, distress that had obviously been there for a long time. She still couldn't think of anything to say, and couldn't understand why, if she couldn't think of anything about all of Bozeman, she should be able to think of something about just one street. (ZMM, 171)   

    Against his own better judgment, Pirsig was becoming impatient, even angry. His own continual problem as an undergraduate, and one that led to his dismissal from college at age seventeen, had always been "having too much to say" (ZMM, 171). "The more you look," he firmly believed, "the more you see. She really wasn't looking and yet somehow didn't understand this" (ZMM, 171). Could it be that she had not narrowed her topic far enough? Pirsig would again hold to what his instincts were telling him – generalized and simple direction: “’Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick.’ Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide” (ZMM, 171).

    The following day, Pirsig’s student strolled into class with a "puzzled look" on her face and handed him a "five-thousand-word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana” (ZMM, 171). "I don't understand it," she had said (ZMM, 171). So what exactly had happened here?  Initially, Pirsig was not exactly sure himself. But after thinking it over for a time, he concluded that to get her to look and think with an artful innocence (Dewey’s phrase), she first had to be confronted with a situation for which her preexisting habits were totally inadequate. In a nutshell, she needed, he said, "to do some original and direct seeing":   

She was blocked because she was trying to repeat, in her writing, things she had already heard, just as on the first day [of class] he [Pirsig] had tried to repeat things he had already decided to say. She couldn't think of anything to write about Bozeman because she couldn't recall anything she had heard worth repeating. She was strangely unaware that she could look and see freshly for herself, as she wrote, without primary regard for what had been said before. (ZMM, 171, my emphasis) 

   The thick-lensed glasses of Pirsig’s student had been acting (in figurative terms) as a kind of perceptual filter, screening out all of the aspects of her experiential landscape that she had not learned to attend to and perceive as meaningful or valuable. The more rigid and pronounced the intellectual habits responsible for this filter became as these restrictive conditions persisted, the less color and variety she was able to see in her environment. In time, she was left virtually "aspect-blind."

    Reducing the focal point of her paper so severely thus accomplished two things at once. First, it compelled her to remove her thick-lensed glasses, to forgo the confining interpretive lens or habits they provided. For we know that she did not have any idea how even to begin looking at a single brick through this lens. Second, the reduced focus helped to free her from the predisposition to view Bozeman through all of the stories and histories that she had previously heard and evidently found so uninteresting. None of these, one assumes, had anything of note to say about any of the bricks in the facade of the Opera House. But now Pirsig’s student was forced “to look and see freshly for herself” as she wrote the paper, as she discovered what it was she wanted to say. Yet before she could learn to see anew, she had to work through a brief period of voluntary "blindness," of blurry-eyed vulnerability without her old glasses. She had to yield to the vague, intuitive elements of her experience and assume a relaxed but vigilant receptivity towards even the most mundane features of the Opera House and its surrounding environment: “What you have to do, if you get caught in this [rigid perceptual filter], is slow down -- you're going to have to slow down anyway whether you want to or not -- but slow down deliberately and go over the ground that you've been over before to see if the things you thought were important were really important and to…well… just stare at [things]” (ZMM, 280). She had seen it all before, the street, the corner, the Opera House; but now she would see it very differently. 

    Accordingly, we are asked to picture this student sitting in "’the hamburger stand across the street’" from the Opera House, her demeanor equal parts uncertainty and expectation, trying to see as if for the first time -- with an artful innocence -- this plain ordinary brick (ZMM, 171). In the past, she had never looked at a brick longer than was necessary to recognize it for customary, instrumental purposes; she had never seen one "in any pregnant sense," as Dewey says (AE, 59). A brick to her was little more than an object for constructing things like buildings and sidewalks, with one being pretty much like every other. But to see the "upper left-hand" brick in terms of its potential yet hitherto unrealized meaning, really to perceive it, in the Deweyan sense, she has to attend to "this individual thing existing here and now with all the unrepeatable particularities that accompany and mark such existences" (AE, 181). Confronted with such a novel situation -- one in which she had been asked to conceive and develop an essay from a single ordinary brick -- she is compelled to reconstruct her preexisting habits of interpretation. She must embark on a creative act of reconstructive doing. The felt resistance between old (habits) and new (situation) becomes the engine of imagination, of a fresh way of seeing the brick and its possible meaning(s). She now begins “to study and to 'take in.' Perception replaces bare recognition" (AE, 59).

    As Pirsig’s student continues to work with this brick, she comes to see it as "less and less an object typical of a class and more an object unique in itself" (ZMM, 257). Her end-in-view here is "to uncover rather than to analyze; to discern rather than to classify."[17] With this act of perception, this "going-out of energy in order to receive," she increases her sensitivity and responsiveness to the direct qualitative features of the brick, aspects of it that she had not perceived before (AE, 60). She carefully notes its exact position, color, size, and shape -- a large piece missing from one of the exposed corners. (Could the building really be that old? she asks herself.) Perhaps she even walks over and touches one of the Opera House bricks, its weathered surface a distinctive salmon red with a coarse, grainy texture and unrefined edges. And it still retains considerable of the heat from a brilliant afternoon sun. Instead of confining herself to some prescribed articulate logic to reconstruct her experience of the brick, then, she gives over to the silent logic of a feeling, intuitive intellect.[18] Moreover, in attending so closely to the immediacy of her experience, her perception is aesthetic. The resistance that the brick offers her impulse for unified activity gradually makes it, as Dewey would say, a "significant object," an expressive, poetic medium (AE, 65).

    Since we are given no details about her paper – and intentionally, I would suspect – we have to imagine its contents for ourselves. One possibility goes something like this: Pirsig’s student developed her narrative around her experience of “fresh seeing” by showing how this brick expresses durability, purposiveness, prosperity, ingenuity, human endeavor, determination, and accomplishment. She might have begun (subsequent to doing a little investigating) by relating the story of the brick's creation by one of several local brick-makers using clay from the area surrounding the Bozeman Creek. Brick construction, she might have noted, served as a sign of permanence and prosperity for often short-lived mining towns of the mid-late 1800s. (The building was indeed “that old.”) She could then have explained that the distinctive salmon color is characteristic of bricks that were under-burned in the kiln, while the unrefined edges resulted from the use of a wooden (rather than metal) “strike” to remove excess clay from the mold. This might have been followed by a discussion of the intriguing hybrid nature of the 1890 Opera House – realized by local architect Byron Vreeland and something not uncommon in the day – with the building also serving as the City Hall, jail, fire station, and library. She could then have written about the dedicated citizens who volunteered their time and talents to raise the funds needed for the auditorium’s stage curtain and scenery backdrop (with their exotic Venetian motif), of the official dedication ceremony (delayed for a time by low water in the creek that powered the electric generator), of the periodic upgrades and improvements to the Opera House (including a new proscenium arch just in time for the 1916 showing of The Birth of a Nation), and of the many memorable singers, performers, and speakers (Al Jolson, Clarence Darrow, and local diva Emma Willson among them) who have graced the stage over the last seventy years. Finally, she might have reported that the venerable old building was soon to be torn down, its structural integrity having been seriously compromised by the preceding year’s earthquake. In short, an important segment of the history of Bozeman might have been told (or retold) and enriched through the meaning gleaned from this single brick and the vital role the Opera House has played in the lives of the people of Bozeman. (Perhaps this novel perspective even enabled her to retrieve the voices of several people whose work was crucial to bringing the Opera House into being, yet who had somehow been relegated to the margins of official or accepted accounts of its heritage.) No longer simply one of a class of objects for constructing buildings and sidewalks, the "upper left-hand" brick now bespeaks of a momentous series of lives and events in the history of Bozeman, Montana.[19]

    Through the artistic engagement that sustained this aesthetic experience, Pirsig’s student had been able to meld the educative, the social, and the aesthetic into a moving and dramatic provisional whole. Personal and cultural renewal, poiēsis (making) and praxis (doing), became one. Her essay might be regarded as the tangible fruit of this artistic engagement. It bore witness to the fact that attention to even surface detail, if done assiduously, can be radically transformative, uncovering (or recovering) in the fabric of experience fresh meanings to be perceived and enjoyed. And one hopes that she would never be quite the same again either. With the realization that "'the world is not to be learned and thrown aside, but [continually] reverted to and relearned,'" she had seemingly taken a major step towards her future self (AE, 326). She was learning to attend to and reconstruct her experiences of the world around her in a directly meaningful way, the world as encountered through museums and art objects, or maybe even through something as commonplace and ostensibly insignificant as a brick. Here, I want to say, is aesthetic education in the broadest and most educationally robust sense, the sense that I believe to be implicit in Dewey’s aesthetics.


    Modes of education that attend to and seek to enhance both our intellectual and aesthetic responsiveness to the everyday are those most capable of nourishing the human erōs, the drive to live a life of ever-expanding meaning and value. They acknowledge the fact that the human need to learn, create, and grow has many and varied dimensions, that, as philosopher Thomas Alexander puts it, we are much more than "rational individuals or 'epistemic subjects' whose primary function is to generate [and manage] propositional claims about the world."[20] Indeed, if Dewey and Pirsig are correct about this, the latter actually constitutes a kind of skeptical withdrawal from the everyday world. It effectively denies our full humanity and the inimitable blend of natural and socio-cultural ingredients that make up the human condition in the multiform interactions of self and world. In addition, it reminds us that the more we confine ourselves to ways of talking and thinking about teaching and learning that ignore or reject the less epistemic of these elements -- the more we displace art for science and the qualitative for the quantitative (as with the main currents of educational reform today) -- the less we will be able to create classroom environments that, like Pirsig’s, encourage students to take an active interest in all of the constituents of their experience.

    A number of powerful historical precedents in Euro-American culture are working against us here. For these problems likewise reveal that the dualisms of Greek and Cartesian rationalist philosophy, with their partitioning of emotion from reason, mind from body, and self from world, continue to belabor the theory and practice of education and the general culture of experience. Pirsig’s struggles demonstrate just how deeply these dualisms and their attendant reifications are embedded in much of our language and, correspondingly, our habits of thought and action. History has shown us that recognizing and then overcoming these facets of our cultural inheritance is a very difficult endeavor indeed. One thing in particular, however, stands out from an educational perspective as especially pressing: the need to expand our perception of the meaning and value of what occurs in our schools and classrooms beyond what can be articulated and known according to the tenets of scientific rationality. Science and other forms of knowledge, Dewey maintains, provide only some of the possible avenues through which the world and others can disclose themselves to us and we to them.

    Alternatively, Dewey’s later works suggest that art and the aesthetic can assist us in recovering the full meaning potential of the everyday for both our students and ourselves. Neither a pipeline to fixed and final truths nor a medium of disinterested pleasure, art as experience marks the revelation and fulfillment of the human capacity for intelligently guided behavior. The qualitative meanings that it realizes have the potential to reaffirm and renew our sense of connectedness with one another and with our surroundings -- our common-wealth -- enabling us to “share vividly and deeply in meanings to which we had become dumb” (AE, 248). This is the driving force behind Dewey’s aesthetics, and its immense implications for the practices of teaching and learning, if pursued assiduously, cannot but refresh us all.


[1] This new area of scholarship was largely motivated by several important books, most notably Joseph H. Kupfer’s Experience as Art: Aesthetics in Everyday Life (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), Thomas Alexander’s, John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience & Nature: The Horizons of Feeling (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), and Richard Shusterman’s Pragmatist Aesthetics: Living Beauty, Rethinking Art (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 1992). Somewhat ahead of its time in this regard is Louise Rosenblatt’s The Reader the Text the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978). Major works that relate Dewey’s aesthetics explicitly to education include Jim Garrison’s Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and Desire in the Art of Teaching (New York: Teachers College Press, 1997) and Philip W. Jackson’s John Dewey and the Lessons of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

       [2] John Dewey, “Art in Education – and Education in Art” in John Dewey: The Later Works, vol. 2, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988), 112.

       [3]  John Dewey, Experience and Nature in John Dewey: The Later Works, vol. 1, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988), 269. This work will be cited as EN in the text for all subsequent references. 

       [4]  John Dewey, Art as Experience in John Dewey: The Later Works, vol. 10, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), 329. This work will be cited as AE in the text for all subsequent references. 

[5] See, for instance, Michael J. Parson, “Cognition as Interpretation in Art Education” in The Arts, Education, and Aesthetic Knowing, eds. Bennett Reimer and Ralph A. Smith (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992), Ralph A. Smith, General Knowledge and Arts Education: An Interpretation of E.D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), Elliot W. Eisner, ed., Learning and Teaching the Ways of Knowing (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985), Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (New York: Basic Books, 1993), and Michael A. Clark, Gilbert D. Day, and W. Dwaine Greer, “Discipline-based Art Education: Becoming Students of Art” in Aesthetics and Art Education, eds. Ralph A. Smith and Alan Simpson (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991).

              [6] Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (New York: Bantam Books, 1974). The work will be cited as ZMM in the text for all subsequent references. For many purposes it is important to distinguish the narrator of ZMM from the flesh and blood author. In this essay, however, I will be referring to both simply as Pirsig. I should also note that Pirsig actually ascribes the experiences recounted here to his former self (whom he calls “Phaedrus”) prior to the administration of intensive electro-shock therapy as treatment for severe mental illness.    

       [7]  Robert M. Pirsig, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (New York: Bantam Books, 1991), 362-366. 

              [8]  Pirsig regularly uses a capitol “Q” when referring to quality as a general phenomenon so as to emphasize its primacy in experience.  

               [9] Compare Pirsig’s problem here with Dewey’s comments on the pedagogical separation of form and content in The School and Society in John Dewey: The Middle Works, vol.1, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1976), 78-79. 

[10] From this point forward, I will for rhetorical purposes be altering the sequence of events as portrayed in ZMM 155-189. And given that Pirsig’s recounting of these events is fairly fragmentary, I will also try to “read between the lines” using the same Deweyan interpretive lens.

[11] This is how Dewey's puts it in Human Nature and Conduct in John Dewey: The Middle Work, vol. 14, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988), 185.

[12] John Dewey, Democracy and Education in John Dewey: The Middle Works, vol. 9, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985), 82. This work will be cited as DE in the text for all subsequent references. 

       [13] John Dewey, Interest and Effort in Education in John Dewey: The Middle Works, vol. 7, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985), 156. This work will be cited as IE in the text for all subsequent references. 

[14] Richard Poirier, Poetry and Pragmatism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 150. Poirier appropriates this notion from Robert Frost’s poem “Mowing.”   

 [15] Stanley Cavell, In Quest of the Ordinary: Lines of Skepticism and Romanticism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1988), 113.

       [16] See Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe (New York: Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc., 1958), 213-214. 

       [17] John Dewey, “Emerson – The Philosopher of Democracy” in John Dewey: The Middle Works, vol. 3, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1977), 186. 

       [18] Ibid., 184-186. 

            [19] Resources used here include Phyllis Smith, Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley: A History (Guilford, Conn.: The Globe Pequot Press, 1996), Joseph Fenton, Pamphlet Architecture No. 11: Hybrid Buildings, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1985), and “Rebuilding Bozeman’s Past, Brick by Brick,” Preservation News, (27 May 2004). 

  [20] Thomas Alexander, “The Human Eros” in Philosophy and the Reconstruction of Culture: Pragmatic Essays After Dewey, ed. John J. Stuhr (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 203.


Please note that the copyright of this paper remains with the author who need to be contacted directly for permission to use this material elsewhere. 

David A. Granger
School of Education
SUNY Geneseo
Geneseo, NY 14454

The above paper is a chapter taken from the Palgrave Macmillan book "John Dewey, Robert Pirsig and the Art of Living".   For more details, please click on one of the books:


For a further indication of its contents, please see the index of the complete book below, keeping in mind David's explanation:

"I would like folks to know that most of the deeper and (I believe) more interesting philosophical commentary and textual exegesis occurs in the earlier book chapters, as can be gleaned from the Index, and that I've simplified things a good deal for a broader 'Journal of Aesthetic Education' audience."




Abr"ams, M. H., 166, 170, 179, 192

Achievement and Motivation (Boggiano and Pittman), 354n

Adorno, Theodor W., 132, 134     

aesthetic theory, chapters 3 and 4 passim

Aesthetics (Beardsley), 342n

Aesthetic Theory (Adorno), 342n

Aids to Reflection (Coleridge), 164, 343n

Alexander, F. Matthias

      the Alexander Technique and, 270-71

Alexander, Thomas M., 1, 34, 166, 268, 338n, 339n

      on Dewey’s aesthetics, 128, 185, 341, 343n

      on Dewey’s metaphysics, 79, 80, 81, 100

      on the “human erōs,” 4, 268, 331

The American Evasion of Philosophy (West), 348n

American Philosophy and the Romantic Tradition (Russell Goodman), 343n

“The American Scholar” (Emerson), 235, 236, 349n

Anima Poetae (Coleridge), 344n

Aristotle, 29, 58, 62, 65, 66, 85, 101

      on art, 120-21, 123

      on rhetoric v. logic, 53-55

Arnold, Matthew, 126, 130

art, chapters 3 and 4 passim

      Aristotle on, 120-21, 123

      the “artworld” and, 136-37, 143

      intractability of, 131-41 passim

      Kant on, 121-22, 127

      object v. work, 147, 203

      Plato on, 119-20, 122

      science and, 2, 63, 119, 127-28, 130-31

Art and Engagement (Berleant), 342n

Art and the Aesthetic (Dickie), 342n

“Art in Education—and Education in Art” (Dewey), 2, 332, 335n

The Arts, Education, and Aesthetic Knowing (Reimer and Smith), 353n

“The Artworld” (Danto), 342n

Beardsley, Monroe, 132

Benedict, Ruth, 107

Berkeley, George, 67

Berleant, Arnold, 132

Biographia Literaria (Coleridge), 165, 166, 175, 176, 191, 193, 200, 202, 344n

Blake, William, 165, 166, 195

Blindness and Insight (de Man), 346n

Bloom, Harold, 15, 184

Blue and Brown Books (Wittgenstein), 337n

Boas, Franz, 90, 340n

Boggiano, Ann K., and Thane S. Pittman, 354n

Boisvert, Raymond D., 339n

Bourne, Randolph, 352n

Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley (Phyllis Smith), 354n

Bromwich, David, 198

Broudy, Harry S., 353n

Buettner, Stewart, 335n

Carlyle, Thomas, 167, 179

Cavell, Stanley, 149, 184, 208, 241, 254, 352n

      on “The Ancient Mariner,” 219-26, 228, 229, 348-49n

      criticism of Dewey, 174, 348n

      on Emersonian perfectionism, 257-66, 321, 351n

            and the body, 265, 270, 272-73

            and false perfectionism, 264-65

      on knowledge and acknowledgement, 216-18

      the metaphor of marriage and, 218-19, 225, 348n

      on skepticism, 210-28 passim

      on Thoreau and “deep reading,” 234-35, 238

      on Wordsworth and the commonplace, 174

A Choice of Inheritance (Bromwich), 346n

“Circles” (Emerson), 254, 349n

Clark, Gilbert, Michael Day, and W. Dwaine Greer, 353n

“Cognition as Interpretation in Art Education” (Parsons), 353n

Cohen, Ted, Paul Guyer, and Hilary Putnam, 347n

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 7, 14, chapter 4 passim

      “The Ancient Mariner,” 178, 179, 219-26, 228, 229

      “Dejection: An Ode,” 345n

      on the everyday, as fallen, 166, 178, 193, 220, 222, 226, 345n

      The Excursion, 182

      on imagination v. fancy, 165, 191-94

      Kant and, 166, 175, 176, 192, 193, 200, 220

      natural supernaturalism and, 165, 178-80

      “The Nightingale,” 179

      organicism of, 200-04 passim

      skepticism and, 213, 219-27

      subject-object metaphysics of, 167, 178, 193-94, 220

      on Wordsworth, criticism of, 170, 175-78    

“A Comment on the Foregoing Criticisms” (Dewey), 335n

A Common Faith (Dewey), 183, 345n

“Compensation” (Emerson), 347n

The Competitive Ethos and Democratic Education (Nicholls), 354n

Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome (Cavell), 336n

Construction and Criticism (Dewey), 350n

Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual (F. M. Alexander), 352n

“Context and Thought” (Dewey), 342n

Critique of Judgment (Kant), 121, 341n

Critique of Pure Reason (Kant), 220, 339n

Croce, Benedetto, 123

Culler, Jonathan, 346n

The Culture of Criticism and the Criticism of Culture (Gunn), 337n

Danto, Arthur, 14, 16, 132-38 passim

      on the “artworld,” 137

Darwin, Charles (Darwinism)

      Dewey and, 109

      Pirsig and, 103-05

“Declining Decline” (Cavell), 260

deconstruction, 15, 238

      on organicism, 199-04 passim, 346n

      skepticism and, 212-13

Deconstruction (Norris), 346n

de Man, Paul, 346n

Democracy and Education (Dewey), 237, 312, 337n

Derrida, Jacques

      différance and, 202

      the metaphysics of presence and, 346n

Descartes, René (Cartesian), 45, 50, 64-68 passim, 71, 72, 102, 252, 255, 258-59, 350n

      the quest for certainty and, 65-66

Dewey and Erōs (Garrison), 1, 335n

Dewey, John

      aesthetic education and, 302, 303, 331-34

      on aesthetic experience, 9, chapter3 passim, 185, 317, 333-34, 341n

            and artistic engagement, 141-61 passim, 341n, 343n

            bodily dimension of, 123, 143, 160, 188, 204

            and expression, 133, 172, 186, 188-91, 196-97, 330

            and imagination, 165, 189, 191-94

            and organic unity, 115, 201-04, 346n

            and poiēsis, 150, 155, 269

            social dimension of, 139, 196, 197

            and unified activity, 113-18, 316, 317, 318

      the Alexander Technique and, 270-72

      on animism, 196-97

      on art

            art object v. art work, 147, 203

            as criticism of life, 126-27

            and science, relationship to, 2, 119, 127-28, 130-31

            separation from everyday life, 115, 117, 122-24, 134-37    

      on “articulate” v. “silent” logic, 154-56

      on consciousness, field structure of, 151-55 passim

      “cultivated naiveté” and, 25-28, 281-82, 328

      on democracy, 93, 185, 350n

            and education, 246, 248-49, 323-24, 338n

            and individuality and sociality, 242, 246-49

            and positive freedom, 249, 254

      Descartes, critique of, 64-65

      on desire, 96-99, 340n

            and the “human erōs,” 4, 84, 96, 127, 188, 204, 254

      Emersonian perfectionism and, 272, 298-99, 350n

      Emersonian pragmatism and, chapter 5 passim, 251-57 passim

      evolutionary naturalism of, 110-11, 113, 214, 215

            and continuity, 82-84, 110-11, 113, 229

            and Social Darwinism, criticism of, 109

      on experience, 5-6

            an experience, 114-19, 146, 187, 190

            everyday, primacy of, 12, 46-47, 69, 72, 78, 165

            mediate and immediate, 34-36, 124-25, 139-40, 336n

            narrative dimension of, 266-69, 276, 278

            qualitative dimension of, 6-7, 32-33, 151-56 passim

      on habits

            as arts, 40-41, 276, 279

            and the body, 40-41, 253, 268-74, 338n

            and growth, 50-51, 253-54, 280-82

            and impulses, 42, 98, 188-89, 276

            reconstruction of (“dramatic rehearsal”), 51, 271-72, 274-81, 298-99

            as self, 252-54

            social dimension of, 41, 253, 278

      Hegelianism and, 61, 80, 81, 202, 338n, 346n

      on inquiry, 81

            and denotation, 46-47, 84, 91

            qualitative dimension of, 32-33, 152-53

            and reflection (thinking), 38-39, 41-46

            and selectivity, 39-40, 43-45, 83, 91, 110

            as social, 92, 93

            and “the philosophical fallacy,” 45-46, 50, 68, 338n

            and values, 83, 91-100

      on interaction (transaction), 48-51, 145-47, 191, 194

      on interest and effort, 315-17

      Keats and, 155, 165, 226, 347n

      on knowledge and knowledge relations, 71-72, 218, 306-07, 339n

            as instrumental, 35, 119, 143

      on language and meaning, 20, 23-25, 337n

            extrinsic and intrinsic meaning, 118, 127-29, 139-40

      on loss and tragedy, lack of recognition of, 174, 278-79

      naturalistic metaphysics of, chapters 1 and 2 passim, 113-14, 339n

            and the generic traits, 10-11, 29-40 passim, 77-78, 82-84, 85, 338n

            as ground-map of inquiry, 17, 82-83, 93, 99-102

      natural supernaturalism and, 165, 179-86 passim, 345n

            and Buddhist quiescence, 160

            and natural piety, 183-85

            and “religious” or “mystical” experience, 153, 180, 185, 213, 342n

      on perception v. recognition, 149-53 passim, 329

      on philosophy as criticism, 19-20, 86, 101-02, 124-25

      on the quest for certainty, 11, 72-73, 77

      reading and writing, lack of emphasis on, 264

      on the reflex arc concept, 49-52, 188

            and continuity, 48-52, 114, 143, 229

      romanticism, critique of, 197, 346n

      on science

            and evaluation, 94

            limitations of, 1-2, 332-33

      on situations, 43, 70, 190, 203

            as problematic, 41-44, 71-72, 147-48, 271-82 passim

      skepticism and, 214-15, 226-27, 348n

      subject-object metaphysics, criticism of, 61, 64-74 passim

      on technology, 159, 181-82

      on truth (“warranted assertability”), 73-74

      on values and evaluation, 20, 86, 94-100

            and science, 91-95 passim, 340n

            value hierarchy, criticism of, 107-11

      as a writer, limitations of, 17, 257, 349n

“Dewey’s Conception of Philosophy” (Ratner), 340n

Dewey’s Metaphysics (Boisvert), 339n

Dickie, George, 132, 136

“Discipline-based Art Education” (Clark, Day, and Greer), 353n

Discourse on Method and the Meditations (Descartes), 338n

Dissanayake, Ellen, 132

“Divinity School Address” (Emerson), 19

Duchamp, Marcel, 132

      Fountain, 136, 137, 138, 139

duck/rabbit picture (Jastrow), 209-10

Duckworth, Eleanor, 353n

Edmundson, Mark

      on Coleridge, 167

      on literary criticism, 14-15

      on Plato and the “ancient quarrel,” 13-14

      on Wordsworth, 167-69, 174


      aesthetic, 3-5, chapter 7 passim

      the arts and, 302-03

      cultural renewal and, 236-39 passim, 246-49 passim, 331-34

      democracy and, 246, 248-49, 323-24, 354n

      Emersonian perfectionism and, 263, 264

      habits and, 269, 273, 279, chapter 7 passim, 338n

      personal renewal and, 263-64, 324, 331-34

      the “space of something, perhaps” and, 319-25 passim

Einstein as Myth and Muse (Friedman and Donely), 339n

Eisner, Elliot W., 353n

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 153-54

      “articulate” v. “silent” logic and, 154-55

      on art and poetry, 128, 130, 149

      on democracy

            and community v. society, 242-43, 244

            docility as the enemy of, 245, 257

            and the individual, 243-45, 248, 257

            and negative freedom, 249

            and “representative man,” 170, 197, 243-45, 349-50n

      Emersonian perfectionism and, 257-266

      Emersonian pragmatism and, chapter 5 passim, 251-57

      figure of circles and, 209, 237, 251, 281

      on growth and loss, 254-57

      on “paltry empiricism,” 82, 165, 211, 333

      on skepticism, 211-14, 216, 227, 344n

“Emerson—the Philosopher of Democracy” (Dewey), 154, 246, 343n

“The End of Aesthetic Experience” (Shusterman), 342n

Enlightened Cherishing (Broudy), 353n

Epstein, Stephen, 340n

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Locke), 338n

Ethics (1908) (Dewey), 352n

Ethics (1932) (Dewey), 350n

“Ethics and Physical Science” (Dewey), 109, 341n

“The Existence of the World as a Logical Problem” (Dewey), 348n

“Experience” (Emerson), 149, 220, 227, 231, 342n

Experience and Education (Dewey), 1, 2, 335n

“Experience and Existence: A Comment” (Dewey), 340n

Experience as Art (Kupfer), 1, 335n

“Experience, Knowledge, and Value: A Rejoinder” (Dewey), 341n

Fenton, Joseph, 354n

“Fiction as ‘Grammatical’ Investigation” (Schalkwyk), 337n

Fischer, Michael, 347n

Foucault, Michel, 15, 269

Frames of Mind (Gardner), 353n

Friedman, Alan, and Carol Donely, 339n

“From Absolutism to Experimentalism” (Dewey), 338n

Frost, Robert, 208

      “Mowing,” 343n

Gardner, Howard, 353n

Garrison, Jim, 1, 3

Geertz, Clifford, 350n

General Knowledge and Arts Education (Ralph Smith), 353n

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 238

      “Erlkönig,” 286, 287-90  

Goodman, Nelson, 132, 139

Goodman, Russell, B., 343n, 344n

Gorgias (Plato), 55, 56, 59

Gouinlock, James, 3, 94, 340n

Gunn, Giles, 115

“The Having of Wonderful Ideas” and Other Essays (Duckworth), 353n

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (Hegelian), 8, 54

      organic unity and, 200, 201

Heisenberg, Warner, 72, 73

Hickman, Larry, 343n

Homo Aestheticus (Dissanayake), 342n

How We Think (Dewey), 17, 337n

“The Human Eros” (Thomas Alexander), 335n

Human Nature and Conduct (Dewey), 274, 338n

Hume, David, 67, 121, 215

Huxley, T. H., 346n

“I Believe” (Dewey), 350n

Impure Science (Epstein), 340n

Individualism, Old and New (Dewey), 246, 248, 350n

In Quest of the Ordinary (Cavell), 347n

“In Quest of the Ordinary” (Cavell), 345n

Interest and Effort in Education (Dewey), 315, 354n

Into the Light of Things (Leonard), 345n

“Irony and Earnestness in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” 

         (Rodino), 352n

Jackson, Philip W., 1, 3, 345n, 353n

“James Marsh and American Philosophy” (Dewey), 343n

James, William, 8, 19

      on consciousness, field structure of, 151, 241

      Emersonian pragmatism and, 208, 230

      radical empiricism of, 33-34

      reflex arc concept and, 49-50

The Japanese Haiku (Yasuda), 343n

Jastrow, James

      duck/rabbit picture of, 209-10

John Dewey and American Democracy (Westbrook), 340n

John Dewey and the Lessons of Art (Jackson), 1, 335n

John Dewey and the Philosopher’s Task (Jackson), 340n

“John Dewey and the Visual Arts in America” (Buettner), 335n

John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value (Gouinlock), 94, 335n

John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology (Hickman), 343n

John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience & Nature (Thomas Alexander), 1, 335n

Johnson, Mark

      on imagination and narrative, 267-68

Kant, Immanuel, 165-67

      on art, 121-22, 127

      skepticism and, 67-68, 213, 220

Kateb, George, 242, 247

Keats, John, 198, 344n

      Lamia, 212

      on Shakespeare, 226

Kupfer, Joseph, 1, 132, 352n

Langbaum, Robert

      on romanticism and empiricism, 163-64

Languages of Art (Nelson Goodman), 342n

Learning and Teaching the Ways of Knowing (Eisner), 353n

Leonard, George

      on romanticism and the commonplace, 181, 345n

Lessons in Elementary Physiology (Huxley), 346n

Literature against Philosophy (Edmundson), 13, 337n

Local Knowledge (Geertz), 350n

Locke, John, 66-67, 70

      conventional empiricism of, 34, 41, 45


      “articulate” v. “silent,” 154-57, 227, 240, 276, 329

      both-and, 240, 349n

      either/or, 31, 56, 240, 276, 305

Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (Dewey), 240, 337n

Love’s Knowledge (Nussbaum), 12, 336n

Lyrical Ballads (Wordsworth and Coleridge), 170-78 passim, 185

“Making Over the Body” (Bourne), 352n

Man’s Supreme Inheritance (F. M. Alexander), 270, 352n

Mapplethorpe, Robert

      Self-Portrait, 138, 139

Marsh, James, 343n

Matthew Arnold’s Essays in Criticism (Arnold), 341n

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 338n

metaphysics, Chapters 1 and 2 passim,

      naturalistic, as ground-map of inquiry, 17, 82-83, 93, 99-102

      of presence, 15, 209-10, 258

      subject-object, criticism of, 61, 64-74 passim, 144-45

      values and, 85-86

Mills, C. Wright, 350n

The Mirror and the Lamp (Abrams), 344n

Mondrian, Piet

      “Broadway Boogie-Woogie,” 130

Moral Imagination (Johnson), 267, 352n

Mulhall, Stephen, 259

Natural Supernaturalism (Abrams), 343n

“Nature” (Emerson), 213, 343n

“Nature and Its Good: A Conversation” (Dewey), 341n

The Necessity of Pragmatism (Sleeper), 339n

“The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy” (Dewey), 348n

Newton, Issac, 67, 72-73

Nicholls, John G., 354n

Norris, Christopher, 346n

Nussbaum, Martha

      on the human condition, 213-14

      on particularity and language, 12-13

      on philosophy and literature, 13, 15, 16, 18

“Of the Standard of Taste” and Other Essays (Hume), 341n

On Certainty (Wittgenstein), 348n

On Deconstruction (Culler), 346n

“On the Aesthetics of Dewey” (Croce), 341n

Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (Quine), 337n

Pamphlet Architecture No.11 (Fenton), 354n

Parsons, Michael J., 353n

Patterns of Culture (Benedict), 107

Peirce, C. S., 92, 156

      on skeptical doubt, 215  

Pepper, Stephen, 123

“Phaedrus” (Pirsig’s former self)

      on Aristotle, criticism of, 53-55, 56, 61

      on Einstein and the “silent logic,” 155-57

      on Kant, criticism of, 122

      mental illness of, 60-61, 79, 283, 297

      mysticism of, 31, 52, 78-80, 153

      Pirsig’s reconciliation with, 194, 282, 296-98, 349n, 353n

      on Plato, criticism of, 55-59

      reflex arc concept and, 49, 52

      on rhetoric v. dialectic/logic, 53-59, 201

      teaching of Quality and, chapter 7 passim

      thesis of Quality and, 49, 58, 60, 290

      on high-quality writing, 306, 317, 320-22, 324

            as dialogical, 320-23

            and form and content, 304-09, 321

            and grading, 312-22 passim

            and interest and effort, 313-15, 317-19

            and prescriptive rhetoric, 304-08, 321

            and the “space of something, perhaps,” 319-25 passim

            and transformative v. mimetic teaching, 306-07, 310-12, 353n

            and unified activity, 311-19 passim

Phaedrus (Plato), 58, 201, 346n

The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (Danto), 337n

Philosophical Investigations (Wittgenstein), 23, 25, 209, 214, 220, 337n

Philosophical Passages (Cavell), 352n

“Philosophies of Freedom” (Dewey), 350n


      the “ancient quarrel” and, 13-14, 55, 59, 63, 155

      as criticism, Dewey and Pirsig on, 19-20, 86, 101-02, 124-25

“Philosophy as/and/of Literature” (Danto), 16

“Philosophy and Civilization” (Dewey), 349n

Pirsig, Robert M. (author), 299

      autobiography and, 265, 336n

      as a writer, 5, 18-20 passim, 23

Pirsig (narrator/protagonist)

      animism of, 195-97

      on artistic engagement, 280, 331

            and habits, 40-41, 145

            and imagination, 150, 165, 329

            and motorcycle maintenance, 9-10, 141-61 passim

            and perception, 150-52, 329, 331

            and poiēsis, 151, 157, 331

      on consciousness, field structure of, 151-57 passim

            and aspect blindness, 28, 325-329

            and “fresh seeing,” 11, 130, 150

            and “lateral seeing,” 153

      on democracy

            and the individual, 243-44, 248-49

            and negative freedom, 249

      Emersonian perfectionism and, 261, 265-66

            and false perfectionism, 265, 282, 298, 352n

            and allegory of the mountain, 282-92 passim

      Emersonian pragmatism and, chapter 5 passim

      on gumption traps, 117, 126, 160, 286, 318, 325

            and value rigidity, 117, 143, 328

      on high-quality experience, 9, chapter 3 passim, 185-86, 317

            as aesthetic, 143, 331

            bodily dimension, dubious status of, 161, 199, 272

            and organic unity, 201-03

            social dimension, lack of emphasis on, 198-99, 352n

      on inquiry

            and “platypi,” 45-46, 66, 67, 68, 86

            qualitative dimension of, 152-53

            and reflection (thinking), 38-39, 41-46

            and selectivity (the “knife”), 39-40, 43-45, 103, 108

            and “the philosophical fallacy,” 45-46, 68

            and values, 44

      on knowledge, 71-72, 143

            and static quality, 37

      on language and meaning, 20, 23, 24

      on loss and tragedy, recognition of, 174, 278-79

      metaphysics of Quality of, 8, chapters 1 and 2 passim

            and (dis)continuity, 48, 106-07, 109, 110-11, 161, 199

            and everyday experience, primacy of, 12, 46-47, 69, 72, 78, 165

            and evolutionary naturalism, 103-11, 214-15

            and the laws of nature, as moral, 105-06, 109

            and value patterns, 104-11, 340n

            and radical empiricism, 31, 33-36, 336n

            and romantic and classic/static and Dynamic, 10-11, 29-40 passim, 103-07, 194,

         336n, 338n

            teleology of, 104, 106, 110

      natural supernaturalism and, 165, 179-86 passim

            and Buddhist quiescence, 160-61, 180

            and “just fixing” or “just sitting,” 160, 180, 295

            and “religious” or “mystical” experience, 153, 185, 213

      on philosophy as criticism, 19-20, 86, 101-02, 124-25

      the quest for certainty and, 11, 72-73, 77

      on scientific rationality

            criticism of, 144-45, 155-56, 266

      on self and subjectivity, 282, 283, 297-98

      situations and, 43, 70

            as problematic (low-quality), 41-44, 71-72, 147-48, 150-51

      skepticism and, 214-15, 292

            and “ego climbing,” 232-33, 287, 292

      son Chris, relationship with, 285-87, 290-91, 292-98 passim

            hypocrisy and irony in, 296, 299

      subject-object metaphysics, criticism of, 61, 64-74 passim, 86-87, 144-45

      on technology, 157-59, 181-83

      on Thoreau’s Walden, 231

            and “deep reading,” 233-35, 261

      on truth, 73-74

      on values and evaluation, 20, 86, 95, 98

            hierarchy of values, 103-11, 159, 161, 199

            and positivism, 87-93, 103 

A Pitch of Philosophy (Cavell), 351n


      the “ancient quarrel” and, 13-14, 55, 59

      on art, 119-20, 122

      on rhetoric v. dialectic, 55-59

A Pluralistic Universe (James), 19, 337n

“The Poet” (Emerson), 181, 342n

Poetics (Aristotle), 120, 121, 201, 341n

Poetry and Pragmatism (Poirier), 207, 208, 343n

The Poetry of Experience (Langbaum), 163, 343n

Poirier, Richard

      on Dewey, 242

      Emersonian pragmatism and, chapter 5 passim, 251-57, 346n

            and linguistic skepticism, 208-09, 227, 347n

      on individuality and sociality, 242, 247

      on the “space of something, perhaps,” 155, 319

The Power Elite (Mills), 350n

The Practice of Teaching (Jackson), 353n

Practicing Philosophy (Shusterman), 264, 351n

Pragmatism (Putnam), 339n

Pragmatist Aesthetics (Shusterman), 1, 335n

Principles of Psychology (James), 50, 338n

Psychology (Dewey), 194

The Public and Its Problems (Dewey), 350n

Pursuits of Happiness (Cavell), 348n

Pursuits of Reason (Cohen, Guyer, and Putnam), 347n

Putnam, Hilary

      on Cavellian skepticism, 211

      on positivism and pragmatism, 92-93

“Qualitative Thought” (Dewey), 337n

quality/Quality, chapters 1 and 2 passim, 190

      as aesthetic, 62-63, 118, 130, 131, 143, 159, 308, 313, 329-30

      as “religious,” 153, 185

      value qualities, 86, 94-96, 100

      teaching and, chapter 7 passim

The Quest for Certainty (Dewey), 72, 73, 338n

Quine, W. V. O., 337n

Ratner, Joseph, 85

The Reader the Text the Poem (Rosenblatt), 353n

“Realism without Monism or Dualism” (Dewey), 339n

Reconstruction in Philosophy (Dewey), 1

“The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology” (Dewey), 49, 188

Reimer, Bennett, 353n

The Republic (Plato), 341n

Rhetoric (Aristotle), 53, 55, 239

Rodino, Richard H., 352n

romanticism, chapter 4 passim,

      animism and, 195-97

      Dewey and, 165

      Dewey on, critique of, 197, 346n

      empiricism and, 163-65

      the everyday and, 163, 165, 175, 179, 181-82

      the “feeling intellect” and, 164, 165, 174, 186

      the marriage of self and world and, 165, 174, 179, 218-19

      natural supernaturalism and, 165, 178-86

      Pirsig and, 165

Rosenblatt, Louise, 353n

Said, Edward, 237

Sartor Resartus (Carlyle), 179

“Self-Reliance” (Emerson), 242, 243, 245, 257, 347n

Serrano, Andres

      Memory, 138, 139

Schalkwyk, David, 337n


      art and, 2, 63, 119, 127-28, 130-31

      positivist, 87-91 passim, 92-93, 101

      values and, 87-95 passim

The Senses of Walden (Cavell), 234, 349n

Shakespeare, William, 226, 255

Shelly, Percy Bysshe, 165, 166

Shusterman, Richard, 1

      on Anglo-American aesthetics, 131-40 passim

      on the body, 269-70, 273

      on Cavell’s Emersonian perfectionism, 264-65, 272, 352n

      on aesthetic experience, 131-41 passim

      on organicism, 200, 203, 204

Sleeper, Ralph W.

      on Dewey’s metaphysics, 80

Smith, Phyllis, 354n

Smith, Ralph A., 353n

Sociology and Pragmatism (Mills), 350n

“Some Questions on Dewey’s Esthetics” (Pepper), 341n

Spencer, Herbert, 109

Stanley Cavell (Mulhall), 351n

Stanley Cavell and Literary Skepticism (Cavell), 347n

Steele, Thomas J., 352n

Stein, Gertrude, 208, 304

“The Subject-Matter of Metaphysical Inquiry” (Dewey), 339n

Suzuki, Daisetsu Teitaro

      on Buddhism as radical empiricism, 339n

      on life as art, 186, 345n

Talbert, Joan E., and Milbrey W. McLaughlin, 354n

Theory of Valuation (Dewey), 97, 340n

Thinking Across the American Grain (Gunn), 341n

This New Yet Unapproachable America (Cavell), 336n

Thoreau, Henry David, 231, 238, 243

      “deep reading” and, 233-35, 261, 322

      personal renewal and, 254-55, 257, 258

Toulmin, Stephen, 73

Tractatus (Wittgenstein), 20, 214, 351n

A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (Berkeley), 339n

A Treatise of Human Nature (Hume), 339n

Twain, Mark, 44, 132

“Understanding Teaching in Context” (Talbert and McLaughlin), 354n

values, chapter 2 passim,

      art and, 112, 124-25, 128

      evaluation and, 85-100 passim

      facts and, 77, 87, 90-91, 97, 99, 101

      science and, 87-95 passim

      value qualities and, 86, 94-96, 100

Walden (Thoreau), 231-35 passim, 254, 257, 261, 349n

Warhol, Andy, 181

      Brillo Box, 137

West, Cornel, 217

Westbrook, Robert, 340n, 343n

Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 137, 289

      on aspect seeing and aspect blindness, 25, 27, 28, 130, 209-10, 337n

      on “forms of life,” 21-24, 216

      “grammatical” investigation and, 22-23

      on knowledge as acknowledgment, 217, 348n

      on language and meaning, 20-25, 212, 214, 228, 260-61

      skepticism and, 212, 214

Wordsworth, William, 7, chapter 4 passim

      on the child, as poetic inspiration, 26-27, 166, 167-69, 182, 183

      “An Evening Walk,” 172

      on the everyday, aesthetic potential of, 165, 172-74, 181-82, 186, 344-45n

      The Excursion, 182

      on expression, 170, 171, 186-88

      on habit and custom, 26, 168, 179, 187

      “Home at Grasmere,” 173, 178, 218

      “The Idiot Boy,” 179

      “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” 25-27, 168, 183,


      “man in nature” poetry of, 169-75, 187, 190

      the metaphor of marriage and, 165, 174, 179, 218-19

      “My Heart Leaps Up,” 183

      natural supernaturalism and, 165, 178-86

            and natural piety, 183-84

            and quiescence, 180-81

      Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 165, 169-82 passim, 186, 187, 344n

      The Prelude, 170, 265, 344n

       “Resolution and Independence,” 197-98

      skepticism and, 212

      subject-object metaphysics, refusal of, 167, 178

      “The Tables Turned,” 347n

      “Tintern Abbey,” 170-71, 179

      “The White Doe of Rylstone,” 180-81, 345n

      “The World Is Too Much with Us,” 174

Yasuda, Kenneth, 343n

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (Steele), 352n