Dewey’s concept of democratic faith looks like an oxymoron. It is not that one cannot believe in democracy—of course one can—but to say that democracy can be an object of belief, something one believes in, and, in a way, idolizes, seems to go against the very idea of democracy. A truly democratic mindset seems to imply a readiness to give up, rather than readiness to seek or struggle. One submits to democratic procedure, or democratic deliberation through a willingness to listen to others, perhaps even revise one’s own views. But faith is different: Faith may imply virtues of tolerance and understanding of other people’s views and faiths, but it is itself strong, uncompromising, unrevisable. Dewey is simply thinking of something like trust. Not blind trust in a procedure, but a deeper trust, where individuals are ready to accept the results of democratic ways of resolving things, just as one accepts results of scientific research. Not as a final answer but as the only legitimate, authoritative answer in a given situation.

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