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Transactionalism is a set of philosophical tools, or a method, employed to address the complexities of human social exchange or transactions. It refers to an approach rather than encouraging the philosophical position one should adopt in life. As a method of inquiry, it has been studied and applied to various disciplines including philosophy, education, psychology, political science, and social anthropology.
John Dewey is credited as the most significant proponent of this method of problem-solving generally associated with Pragmatism beginning in the work of Charles Sanders Peirce and William James. Dewey asserted that the human tendency toward dualistic thinking—that of the mind and matter as separate entities—was insufficient in problem-solving. He offered a sophisticated, yet pragmatic approach to the complexities of modern human existence designed to correct the "fragmentation of experience" often found in the isolated views of Subjectivism, Objectivism, Constructivism and Skepticism.
Life is not organized as separate entities, as if the mind (emotions, feelings, creativity, imagination) and the world outside it (raw and manufactured goods as well as social roles and institutions such as family, school, and media) are irreconcilable. Thus, leading to the question "How does the mind know the world?" A Transactionalist demands that all human exchange is best understood as a set of transactions within a reciprocal and co-constitutive whole. Shaped and defined by an existence and set of experiences that are all at once biological, socio-emotional, and intellectual, "man is an information-processing, organizing, open-energy system." Attention is paid to organizing acts within, and as if always, a reciprocal and co-constitutive, social exchange whether it be in buying and selling, teaching and learning, or in a marital contract or relationship.
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