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The Rhythms of Nature: John Dewey's Syncopated Ontology

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John Dewey’s “generic traits of existence” are best understood as pervasive patterns or “rhythms” of nature. These natural rhythms are necessarily operative in all that exists, and every particular existence should be understood as a refinement or manifestation of natural rhythm. The idea of “tension,” a recurring theme in Dewey’s work, is to be understood as a co-constituent of rhythm. To say something “exists” is to denote something that is fundamentally rhythmic and tensional, in an exchange with other existences. The rhythms of human enterprise, including the pursuit of wisdom, must be in harmony or syncopation with a larger environment.


Paul Benjamin Cherlin    
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
United States


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