Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Anderson, Douglas

Second Advisor

Tyman, Stephen

Abstract

Agency and desire are interdependent. Agency is not a given, but an achievement of ordered desiring. We want to control our desires rather than be controlled by them, but the dilemma is that our selves are separate neither from our desires nor our control. John Dewey articulates this dynamic and proposes a solution; we can control desire and thereby ourselves by an immanent and reflective reconstruction of the meaning and object of desire. However, Dewey over-estimates the cognitive control of meaning and desire, because he presumes that desire is always ideational, rather than explaining how desire comes into cognitive awareness and control to be available for reflective manipulation. This work will extend Dewey's theory of experience and habit by explaining the structural habitual conditions necessary for the cognitive control of desire, e.g., how desire becomes ideational and subsequently an ideal. It offers a constructive criticism and a new heterodox phenomenological method based on the works of John Dewey, Thomas Alexander, and Victor Kestenbaum.

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