Bentley Correspondence

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The correspondence between Dewey and the renowned American sociologist Arthur F. Bentley is a contribution to philosophy of linguistics, semiotics, logic, and epistemology.  It is also an engaging narrative in which ideas are communicated between two of the finest intellects of the twentieth century.  The letters are compiled in John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley, A Philosophical Correspondence, 1932-1951, which includes an informative and elucidating introduction by Sidney Ratner, who also was very much a part of the powerful milieu of minds engaged with Deweyan and the progressive pragmatic theories of the time. Dewey and Bentley's ideas coalesced in the book Knowing and the Known. Reading their letters is to follow the process of creative contemporary philosophy. 

The beginning of this dialogue gives us physical evidence of the curiosity of spirit and open-mindedness which pervades Deweyan writings in general.

Dear Mr Bentley

Sometime ago I received a copy of your Linguistic Analysis of Mathematics. I fear I didnt acknowledge it. At all events as I was occupied with other matters, I didnt read it. Recently I have read it, and am still re-reading it. It has given me more enlightenment and intellectual help than any book I have read for a very long time. I have been engaged during this year in trying to get my ideas on logical theory into systematic shape for publication and I cannot put into words how much your book has meant to me in this process. Besides the great specific help it has given me in attacking the special theme of the procedure of mathematics, in which I am rather deplorably ignorant, it has greatly encouraged and strengthened me in my general position. While my terminology differs from of your realistic and semantic, your treatment of [t]hat subject enabled me to clarify and make more precise a distinction I had made between control of inquire from within and externally, and I have already rewritten some pages I had set down on that point to the effect that recent "mathematical logic" as well as the traditional Aristotleian logic assumes control by meanings fixed outside the operations of inquiry. I had also written that contemporary logicians who profess to make the sharpest division between logic and psychology nevertheless assume without examination certain conceptions taken over from a psychology that is already outmoded. Here too your treatment has helped make my ideas much more definite. These are but two points of the many in which your book has been invaluable to me. I shall lose no opportunity in making ac-||quaintance with your other writings.

Please accept my apologies for this belated acknowledgment and my warm thanks for inspiration and enlightenment.

                                                                                                                           Sincerely yours,
                                                                                                                           John Dewey