A society which rests upon the supremacy of some factor over another irrespective of its rational or proportionate claims leads thought astray. (Source: Democracy and Education By John Dewey)

What does (the phrase) mean? Does it mean "the supremacy of some factor over another factor that is not rational"? If so, it is a good thing isn't it the supremacy of some factor over some irrational factor? AND how does a good thing lead thought astray? Could you help me clarify it? Thanks.

  • Are you sure it's not rationale?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 16:01
  • Thanks. Could you kindly tell me what proportionate claims mean? Thanks. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 16:37
  • 1
    I have corrected the quotation. It is essential that you reproduce the text you're asking about exactly, without omitting or changing any word or point. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 17:04

2 Answers 2



A society which bases itself on (="rests upon") the supremacy of some factor over another without regard to (="irrespective of") whether the claim of supremacy (="its claims") is reasonable (="rational") or appropriate to its actual importance (="proportionate") leads thought astray.


This phrase itself means choosing one thing over another, without looking at solid justification of conrete importance for either of these things. This is a bad thing, it is like choosing a random career, and insisting on pursuing it without studying it and other options to see the benefits offered by each. In this scenario, society might choose to value militarism over agriculture, irrespective of the reasoning of the value of each. This will lead to poor judgement and incorrect thoughts.

So it is a bad thing, and that’s why the thoughts go astray.


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