"The experience has to be formulated in order to be communicated. To formulate requires getting outside of it, (seeing) it as another would see it, (considering) what points of contact it has with the life of another so that it may be got into such form that he can appreciate its meaning." (Source: Democracy and Education by John Dewey)

  1. How should I understand the two brackets, seeing and considering? Are they participial construction? If so, which one do they mean when, while or and?
  2. Or, are they gerund in the place of an object of the verb requires like "getting outside of it"? If so, why is not there a conjunction "and" between it and considering?

Could you help me clarify it? Thank you.

1 Answer 1


It looks like Mr. Dewey doesn't make clarity a priority in his writing style! To answer your main question, these are gerunds, because they function as the object of the verb "requires." (For a nice explanation of how to tell them apart, see this.)

If I were going to add conjunctions to the sentence, I would do this:

To formulate requires getting outside of it, that is, seeing it as another would see it, while considering what points of contact it has with the life of another."

There are times when people omit the conjunctions that you mention, because they are understood. This is especially true when they elaborate on an initial idea, which is what Dewey is doing here.

Here's an example from an old Woody Allen comedy routine:

The moose starts to mingle, goes to the buffet table; some guy tries to sell him insurance.

The two additional phrases are elaborations of the idea of the moose's mingling. (The moose is at a party. Here's the whole routine if you would like some context.)

Dewey is saying that if you have an idea, in order to communicate that idea you have to "package" it in such a way that whoever you're communicating it to understands it. This requires putting yourself in the other person's place, and expressing the idea in a way that the other person will understand and find familiar. (That's what I'm trying to do here with you as well.)


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