Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dewey's Democracy and Today's Internet

The innovative age of technology has contributed to a new sense of freedom. The essential use of the Internet has grown to unify millions. John Dewey, a historical philosopher examined democracy as a “wide range of social relationships.” His principal interpretations of democracy parallel that of today’s Internet advancements. The Internet enables people to connect over virtually anything, allowing for “social and personal ideals” to be shared, a common theme in Dewey’s works. Dewey emphasized that “relationships that cut across different spheres of social life can unify them,” and the Internet does just that. Dewey’s anti-elitist philosophy, where democracy is defined as individual freedoms, simply mirrors the cyber world of the Internet.

Dewey’s theory of an individualized democracy centers on his idea of curiosity and knowledge. He explains that knowledge is the search for answers, a “quest for certainty.” He goes on to explain that theories and hypotheses are “invented, used, tested, and revised.” Dewey believed that democracy in its very fundamental nature could only be applied to full potential if ample attention was paid to the “reconstruction of both social plurality and experimental intelligence.” These principles are the basis to the development and ongoing expansion of the Internet. The Web has enabled individuals and organizations to create and publish their own ideas to whatever audience they choose. It has altered the social climate that individuals exist in today. Dewey too describes democracy as “social and experimental.” The similarity between Dewey’s once controversial philosophy on democracy and today’s leading telecommunication provider are conjoined by the common theme of a ‘social’ freedom.

“Men are not isolated non social atoms,” Dewey explains, “They have come organically related to one another, or are posses of unity of purpose and interest.” People use the Internet today to search for answers, creating an entirely new form of social interaction, through common ideas and interests. The revolution of cyberspace creates for the same ideals Dewey once purposed. A ‘place’ where men are not isolated, but yet connected in almost every imaginable way, a ‘place’ where people can relate to one another, and a ‘place’ where they are united by common ideals, characteristics, and freedoms. Dewey believed democracy was synonymous with the ethical ideal of humanity, which is an imminent part of effective social communication.

Web penetration has grown significantly in the last five years for the same reasons Dewey once suggested, freedom. Both democracy and the Internet are premised around individualism and freedom. Two separate concepts that identify the condition to which an individual has the right to behave according to their own personal free will, an impact of ideals that concern both the social contract and the state of nature. Dewey’s interpretation of democracy is the perfect definition of today’s Internet use, “individuality could only be sustained where social life was understood as an organism in which the well-being of each part was tied to the well-being of the whole. Freedom in a positive sense.”

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