The American Institute for Philosophical and Cultural Thought fosters the study of philosophical and cultural thought in America by collecting and archiving literary and educational resources, providing access to those resources to scholarly researchers, and disseminating education about American philosophical and cultural thought. AIPCT maintains an organized archival library, consisting of approximately 35,000 donated books and collections of papers, and also purchased items using monetary donations. AIPCT encourages the use of these research materials by permitting scholars to access them at the Institute, located near Carbondale, Illinois. AIPCT will also foster other kinds of scholarly activities, such as workshops, website information, online conferencing, and academic publishing, relating to its educational mission.

The AIPCT held its Grand Opening and Inaugural Lecture by Dr. Larry Hickman on "Humanism, the Humanities, and Technoscience" on November 21, 2016.

 

Next Event
 

Institute Seminars on the topic of NATURALISM, June 24-30, 2017.

Interested in presenting or attending? Contact John Shook at jshook@pragmatism.org

 

What happened to the Dewey Center?

 
Message from Thomas Alexander

Re: The Center for Dewey Studies:

As of January 1, 2017, The Center for Dewey Studies is closed indefinitely.
All funding, even for minimal personnel to keep it open as a research
center, has been terminated by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
This is due to the on-going political gridlock in Springfield: we are in
the second year of not having a budget for the State of Illinois. The cost
to education has already been disastrous, and our administration cannot
foresee what resources it will have or need in order to finish the fiscal
year. We had hoped that even the modest expense of keeping a skeleton staff
would be sustained, but such is not the case. There is currently no clear
plan for what to do with the physical resources of the Center, its copies
of Dewey’s papers, extensive research library, and various independent
collections of material. (The Dewey Papers, Dewey’s library, and some
personal effects belong to SIUC’s Special Collections, not to the Center).

The Center has a notable record of achievement in publications. Under the
directorship of Jo Ann Boydston, the Center produced The Collected Works of
John Dewey (1967-1990) in thirty-seven fine volumes, published by SIU
Press. One surprising discovery was a substantial number of Dewey’s poems,
edited and separately published by Boydston as The Poems of John Dewey in
1977. Mention should also be made of the publication (and periodically
updated) of the Works about Dewey, edited by staff member Barbara Levine.
Under the directorship of Larry Hickman, the Center published: The
Correspondence of John Dewey in four electronic volumes (completed in
1997), an electronic edition of The Collected Works, and The Class Lectures
of John Dewey. At its closure, the Center was in the process of
electronically transcribing, proofreading, and editing Dewey’s Lectures in
China. Besides its publications, the Center provided a research facility
for visiting scholars that included a major library of works about Dewey as
well as xerox copies of the papers, correspondence, and other documents
stored in the Special Collections of Morris Library. Over the years,
scholars from all over the globe, from Iceland to India, came to the
Center. For many of these guests, the small town of Carbondale, the rolling
hills of the Shawnee National Forest, and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
were their first experiences of the United States. For most of those years,
the Center was located in a two-story frame house, creating an intimate
environment for guests and staff. The house was demolished two years ago
and the Center relocated to the basement of Morris Library.

The story of how Dewey’s papers and other memorabilia (such as Dewey’s
surviving library and his old Underwood typewriter) came to SIUC is worth
telling, especially since it highlights a different era in American
academia marked by a different outlook on the part of its administrators as
well as a difference in the degree of public support for higher education.
When Dewey died in 1952, possession of his papers passed to his widow,
Roberta Dewey. She established the John Dewey Foundation in 1964 for the
promotion of Dewey’s thought. Its Board consisted of Sidney Hook, Ernest
Nagel, and Gail Kennedy. When Roberta died in 1970, her estate was divided
between the Foundation and Dewey’s surviving children. The collection of
Dewey’s papers and memorabilia was to be sold off as part of the
settlement. It was then that the Board bought the collection to preserve
its integrity and sought a place for it to be housed, eventually
determining to deposit it at SIUC. The decision to choose SIUC over
Columbia may seem surprising. The fact that SIUC had already embarked upon
the project of a critical edition of Dewey’s writings in the early 1960s
under the editorship of Jo Ann Boydston was instrumental in that decision.
SIUC had also shown an active interest in acquiring material related to
Dewey. Kenneth Duckett, an archivist with Morris Library, not only sought
out letters and manuscripts by and about Dewey, but conducted a series of
interviews with members of Dewey’s family, friends, and colleagues. The
expanding philosophy faculty at SIUC, too, counted several scholars
interested in Dewey’s thought, among them S. Morris Eames, Lewis Hahn, and
process theologian Henry Nelson Weiman. Thus, with a growing nucleus of
material and the genuine interest on the part of SIUC, the Board made the
decision to deposit Dewey’s papers, books, paintings, and other material at
Morris Library. (Further information about the disposition of Dewey’s
estate, the history of the Center, including the transcript of an interview
with Jo Ann Boydston, can be found in Volume IV of The Correspondence of
John Dewey.)

When Boydston retired as Director of the Center in 1992, the University
renewed its commitment, hiring Dr. Larry Hickman, then at Texas A & M
University, to succeed her. Under his leadership not only was the project
of editing and publishing Dewey’s correspondence realized, but the global
profile of Dewey was significantly raised: Hickman has been an
indefatigable speaker around the world and has done much to promote and
develop Dewey’s ideas. With the support of the John Dewey Foundation, he
helped establish other Dewey Centers in such foreign countries as: Italy,
China, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, and
France. In addition, Hickman was an able fundraiser for the Center and its
mission. Dr. Hickman retired at the end of 2015. Since then, I (on behalf
of the SIUC Philosophy Department) and Dr. Paula Anders McNally (on behalf
of the Center) have served as co-directors as the Illinois budgetary crisis
loomed.
While it is regrettable that SIUC can no longer fund the Center as an open
research facility, those involved with the Center can look back at a series
of tremendous accomplishments, not least the monumental critical edition of
a major American philosopher. There are many reasons why Dewey’s thought,
in near total eclipse in 1961, is now once again a powerful voice in
philosophy. Certainly one of the main reasons is the evidence of the range
and power of his work provided, now and for the years to come, in The
Collected Works. In addition to the people already mentioned, gratitude
should be expressed to James Downhour, Harriet Simon, Jean Ohms, and many
others for their years of service.

It is possible, should the prospects for our funding be reversed in the
near future, the Center could reopen and become effective again.

If you wish to encourage such action by the SIUC administration, or merely
to express your sense of the role and impact of the Center, I encourage you
to contact the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Meera Komarraju (
cola.dean@siu.edu), Provost Susan M. Ford (provost@siu.edu), Interim
Chancellor Brad Colwell (chancellor@siu.edu) and President Randy Dunn (
president@siu.edu).

Thomas M. Alexander
January 2017

 

The Institute Directors

Dr. John R. Shook is a philosophy professor living in the D.C. region. He currently teaches philosophy at Bowie State University in Maryland. Dr. Shook has published extensively across the history of American philosophy and American intellectual history. He is editor of the Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers (2005), the Dictionary of Early American Philosophers (2012), Historical Essays in 20th-Century American Philosophy (2015), and The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Philosophers in America (2016).
 
Dr. Randall E. Auxier is a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He was the editor of the Library of Living Philosophers for many years. He edited the journal The Personalist Forum from 1997 until 2006, when he and John Shook transformed it into The Pluralist, and he remained Editor in Chief until 2012. Dr. Auxier authored Time, Will and Purpose: Living Ideas from the Philosophy of Josiah Royce (2013) and co-authored The Quantum of Explanation: Whitehead's Radical Empiricism (2017). With John Shook he oversees the American Philosophical and Cultural Thought book series with State University of New York Press, 
 
Dr. Larry A. Hickman is emeritus director of the Center for Dewey Studies and emeritus professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He edited the four volumes of The Correspondence of John Dewey, (1999, 2001, 2005, and 2008). Dr. Hickman is the author of many books, including John Dewey's Pragmatic Technology (1990), Philosophical Tools for Technological Culture (2001), Pragmatism as Post Postmodernism (2007), and Living As Learning: John Dewey in the 21st Century (with Daisaku Ikeda and Jim Garrison, 2014).
 

The Role of the AIPCT

Located in Murphysboro, Illinois (near Carbondale and Southern Illinois University), the AIPCT is a scholarly institution with an educational and cultural mission. The Institute was conceived by John Shook (now the President) and Randall Auxier (in whose large Victorian home the Institute is based) during conversations about the future of the humanities. AIPCT activities take up some of the functions of the Center for Dewey Studies, which has been greatly diminished by funding cuts and changes in the focus and energies of SIUC. The continuation of some of the work of the Dewey Center is one reason why our inaugural address is given by the Director Emeritus of that distinguished Center, Larry A. Hickman, who is also a member of the AIPCT Board. The recent past has been difficult, but we are looking to the future. We think the humanities are doing poorly at present in our institutions of higher learning, and are not likely to do well in the foreseeable future, due to the corporatization of the universities, and to the widespread tendency in our culture to undervalue humanistic learning. So we are creating a space for humanities and humanistic thinking (including religious humanism) that does not depend on the university system, or on the largess of administrators. We intend to embrace technology in all of its forms while also conserving and preserving important materials.

Because Southern Illinois is already known around the world for its holdings and research in American thought, we are specializing in that. We have already gathered around 25,000 volumes and our holdings will increase to 35,000 by the end of 2016. This collection of books and papers come as gifts from the a number of living supporters, such as Richard T. Hull, Douglas R. Anderson, Carl Hausman, and members of the Board, along with generous gifts from the estates of over a dozen distinguished professors. These include books and papers from Charles Sherover, John Howie, Warren Steinkrauss, H.S. Thayer, V.T. Thayer, Abraham Edel, Howard Radest, Creighton Peden, and Jo Ann Boydston, among others. There are many first editions and rare books, as well as important papers and correspondence.

AIPCT will have on-line classes and we will host events regularly, including seminars, workshops, lectures. The space will be available for appropriate receptions and other events of a cultural nature. There will be concerts occasionally. We also have a resident fellowship program (and our first resident fellow is already at the AIPCT for 2016, Thurman Todd Willison from Union Theological Seminary in NYC). There will be a visiting scholars program as well.

The AIPCT is not equivalent to the house. The Institute is the books, the papers, and the programs. We anticipate growth and could move elsewhere if needed, in the future, in order to expand. The house creates a pleasant setting for research and functions, but is a separate entity, eventually to be incorporated and set on the National Register of Historic Places, with a different Board and a different mission. It has an art collection and is itself an architectural and artistic treasure.

Regional philosophy destinations:
The Center for Dewey Studies
Morris Library, Room 44
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
P: 618.453.2629 | dewey@siu.edu
The Institute for American Thought
(Peirce, Royce, Santayana, Douglass editions and papers)
902 West New York Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
P: 317-278-3374 | cpeirce@iupui.edu

Contact us:

Randall Auxier, personalist61@gmail.com

John Shook, jshook@pragmatism.org