A Note on the Dewey-Frost
On behalf of the Columbia University Department of Philoso¬
phy I am delighted to have an opportunity, in Columbia Library
Columns, to express appreciation of Mrs. Frost's notable contri¬
bution of her letters from John Dewey. These 150 letters arc the
largest group of John Dewey's letters known to us. Selections
from nine of them were published, last spring, in Daedalus, the
quarterly Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The letters, informal in tone and, as iMrs. Frost says, full of in¬
terest for biographers, are surely worthy of particular attention
by students of philosophy. Even a writer who published as exten¬
sively as Dewey did, reveals new aspects of his thought in letters
of this kind. In some of them there are passages which recall the
speculative philosophers to whom Dewey devoted special con¬
cern in his student days and in his earliest writings.
Unlike another eminent, contemporary philosopher, who as¬
serted that he never replied to letters because this would reduce
the time he had for his work, John Dewey probably never left a
serious communication unanswered. Such communication did not
seem to him irrelevant to or an interference with his essential phi¬
losophic tasks. At its best, correspondence was for him, as Mrs.
Frost says, a "cooperative endeavor."
Other libraries are establishing Dewey archives and there need
be no rivalry nor monopolistic ambitions, especially at a time when
techniques of reproduction, such as microfilming, can make full
sharing possible. But we are fortunate that, through Airs. Frost's
generosity, these letters of Dewey's have, as she expresses it, "come
home" to Columbia. In Columbia Libraries' Special Collections