An Alexander Technique teacher explains why he uses Dewey’s endorsement:
« Dewey was one of the few prominent endorsers of FM’s work that actually had some insightful things to say about it — not just that it helped him with his specific breathing or posture issues.
To cite just two examples, it was Dewey who came up with the phrase “thinking in activity” and it was Dewey who produced — for me at least — the best analysis of why posture commands (“stand up straight!” and the like) don’t work. »
Some of Dewey’s analysis is vintage FM as far as the ideas in it go. The reader may prefer the way Dewey puts the ideas over FM’s original, but I’d rather hear them from someone whose other ideas didn’t repulse me.
A murderer might say two plus two equals four, but wouldn’t you rather have arithmetic lessons from someone else?
Dewey is equivalent to a mass murderer, a killer of minds.
As for the phrase “thinking in activity,” even by itself — that is, if you didn’t know that in Dewey’s philosophy it suggests a special, non-alexandrian meaning — it’s hardly a major contribution to the Alexander Technique. (See Thinking In Activity on this website.)
« If we devalue somebody’s endorsement of FM because we didn’t agree with everything they wrote or did, we would logically have to apply the same standard to FM himself. »
Alexander’s errors, such as his idea of evolution, or the use of the word “stimulus” (confusing to those familiar with its use in psychology) are not essential to his main work. Dewey’s philosophy, on the other hand, is malicious from basement to belfry.
The question naturally arises: If Dewey was so bad, how could Alexander associate himself with him?
Alexander, though a genius, was not an intellectual. Probably all he understood about Dewey was that he had a substantial reputation in academia. Alexander valued an endorsement from such a person. I doubt very much if Alexander read Dewey’s books, and I’m sure he didn’t understand his philosophy.
In general Alexander was not too particular from whom he accepted endorsements. Wilfred Barlow wrote: “It was a buyer’s market for most of his life ... he accepted gratefully the plaudits of any minor ‘authority’ who was prepared to say that his work was valuable.” (The Alexander Technique, page 214.)