Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This book was made possible - as are all my writings - by my loving family and friends: my inimitable parents, Clifton L. West, Jr., and Irene Bias West; my steadfast brother, Clifton L. West Ill; my supportive sisters, Cynthia West Cole and Cheryl West; my close confidant, James Melvin Washington, Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-8

A small-scale intellectual renascence is occurring under the broad banner of pragmatism. The controversial works of Richard Rorty - aided by the differing views of fellow pragmatists such as Hilary Putnam, Ian Hacking, and Richard Bernstein - have unsettled academic philosophy. Literary critics of the pragmatist persuasion like Frank Lentricchia and Stanley ...

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1. The Emersonian Prehistory of American Pragmatism

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pp. 9-41

The long shadow cast by Ralph Waldo Emerson over American pragmatism has been often overlooked and rarely examined. Yet Emerson not only prefigures the dominant themes of American pragmatism but, more important, enacts an intellectual style of cultural criticism that permits and encourages American pragmatists to swerve from mainstream ...

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2. The Historic Emergence of American Pragmatism

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pp. 42-68

American pragmatism can be understood as what happens to the Emersonian evasion of epistemology-centered philosophy when forced to justify itself within the professional perimeters of academic philosophy. The first articulators of American pragmatism - members of the Metaphysical Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts - were learned professionals principally inter-...

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3. The Coming-of-Age of American Pragmatism: John Dewey

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pp. 69-111

American pragmatism reaches its highest level of sophisticated articulation and engaged elaboration in the works and life of John Dewey. To put it crudely, if Emerson is the American Vico, and James and Peirce our John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant, then Dewey is the American Hegel and Marx! On the surface, these far fetched comparisons reveal the poverty ...

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4. The Dilemma of the Mid-Century Pragmatic Intellectual

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pp. 112-181

The legacy of American pragmatism for mid-century intellectuals was the project of promoting an Emersonian culture of creative democracy by means of critical intelligence and social action. The major proponents of this project and legacy were no longer white Yankees but rather two second-generation Jewish Americans, Sidney Hook and Lionel Trilling; ...

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5. The Decline and Resurgence of American Pragmatism: W.V. Quine and Richard Rorty

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pp. 182-210

Although American pragmatism is widely regarded as the distinctive American philosophy, it has never been hegemonic in the academic profession of philosophy. Even during the heyday of James and Dewey, old forms of idealism and new versions of naturalism and realism dominated the major philosophy departments in the country. Moreover, the major fol-...

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6. Prophetic Pragmatism: Cultural Criticism and Political Engagement

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pp. 211-242

The move from Rorty's model of fluid conversation to that of the multi-leveled operations of power leads us back to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like Friedrich Nietzsche, Emerson is first and foremost a cultural critic obsessed with ways to generate forms of power. For Rorty, these forms are understood as activities of conversation for the primary purpose ...

Notes

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pp. 243-272

Index

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pp. 273-279