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The American Evasion of Philosophy Cover

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The American Evasion of Philosophy

A Genealogy of Pragmatism

Cornel West

Taking Emerson as his starting point, Cornel West’s basic task in this ambitious enterprise is to chart the emergence, development, decline, and recent resurgence of American pragmatism. John Dewey is the central figure in West’s pantheon of pragmatists, but he treats as well such varied mid-century representatives of the tradition as Sidney Hook, C. Wright Mills, W. E. B. Du Bois, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lionel Trilling. West’s "genealogy" is, ultimately, a very personal work, for it is imbued throughout with the author’s conviction that a thorough reexamination of American pragmatism may help inspire and instruct contemporary efforts to remake and reform American society and culture.

"West . . . may well be the pre-eminent African American intellectual of our generation."—The Nation

"The American Evasion of Philosophy is a highly intelligent and provocative book. Cornel West gives us illuminating readings of the political thought of Emerson and James; provides a penetrating critical assessment of Dewey, his central figure; and offers a brilliant interpretation—appreciative yet far from uncritical—of the contemporary philosopher and neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty. . . . What shines through, throughout the work, is West's firm commitment to a radical vision of a philosophic discourse as inextricably linked to cultural criticism and political engagement."—Paul S. Boyer, professor emeritus of history, University of Wisconsin–Madison.



Wisconsin Project on American Writers

Frank Lentricchia, General Editor


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American Journal of Theology & Philosophy

Vol. 31 (2010) through current issue

The American Journal of Theology & Philosophy is a scholarly journal dedicated to the creative interchange of ideas between theologians and philosophers on some of the most critical intellectual and ethical issues of our time.

Exceptional scholars, such as Gordon Kaufman, John Cobb, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Holmes Rolston III, Robert Neville, Delwin Brown, Wentzel van Huyssteen, Richard Rorty, Nancy Frankenberry, William Dean, Richard Bernstein, Nancy Howell, Daniel Dombrowski, Edward Farley, Victor Anderson, and Linell Cady have challenged us to think in completely new ways about topics that include public theology and American culture, religion and science, ecological spirituality, feminist cosmology and ethics, problems in religious pluralism and inter-disciplinarity, process thought, metaphysical theology, postmodern thought, the viability of historical and contemporary concepts of God, American religious empiricism and pragmatism, creative democracy, and the nature and truth-value of religious language.

The American Journal of Theology & Philosophy is the official publication of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought.

American Orient Cover

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American Orient

Imagining the East from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century

David Weir

Surveying the American fascination with the Far East since the mid-eighteenth century, this book explains why the Orient had a fundamentally different meaning in the United States than in Europe or Great Britain. David Weir argues that unlike their European counterparts, Americans did not treat the East simply as a site of imperialist adventure; on the contrary, colonial subjugation was an experience that early Americans shared with the peoples of China and India. In eighteenth-century America, the East was, paradoxically, a means of reinforcing the enlightenment values of the West: Franklin, Jefferson, and other American writers found in Confucius a complement to their own political and philosophical beliefs. In the nineteenth century, with the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy, the Hindu Orient emerged as a mystical alternative to American reality. During this period, Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalists viewed the “Oriental” not as an exotic other but as an image of what Americans could be, if stripped of all the commercialism and materialism that set them apart from their ideal. A similar sense of Oriental otherness informed the aesthetic discoveries of the early twentieth century, as Pound, Eliot, and other poets found in Chinese and Japanese literature an artistic purity and intensity absent from Western tradition. For all of these figures the Orient became a complex fantasy that allowed them to overcome something objectionable, either in themselves or in the culture of which they were a part, in order to attain some freer, more genuine form of philosophical, religious, or artistic expression.

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Analogia Entis

On the Analogy of Being, Metaphysics, and the Act of Faith

Steven A. Long

Analogia Entis: On the Analogy of Being, Metaphysics, and the Act of Faith is an intellectually rigorous and systematic account of Thomas’s teaching regarding the analogy of being. Steven A. Long’s work stands in contradistinction to historical-doctrinal surveys and general introductions, retrieving by way of an interpretation of Aristotle and Aquinas the indispensable role that analogy of being plays for metaphysics and, consequently, for theology. In his later writings St. Thomas did not return to questions about the analogy of being that he had answered earlier in his career. This has led most historical-textual treatments of analogy in current scholarship to the mistaken conclusion that Thomas actually changed his answers to these questions. Scholars fail to see the continuity between his treatment in the Summa theologiae and his earlier De veritate. Long's study demonstrates the coherence of St. Thomas’s earlier and later analyses. It shows how Thomas’s later account in the Summa theologiae necessarily presupposes his earlier teaching.

Ancient Perspectives on Aristotles De anima Cover

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Ancient Perspectives on Aristotles De anima

Gerd Van Riel, Pierre Destrée (eds)

Aristotle’s treatise On the Soul figures among the most influential texts in the intellectual history of the West. It is the first systematic treatise on the nature and functioning of the human soul, presenting Aristotle’s authoritative analyses of, among others, sense perception, imagination, memory, and intellect. The ongoing debates on this difficult work continue the commentary tradition that dates back to antiquity. This volume offers a selection of papers by distinguished scholars, exploring the ancient perspectives on Aristotle’s De anima, from Aristotle’s earliest successors through the Aristotelian Commentators at the end of Antiquity. It constitutes a twin publication with a volume entitled Medieval Perspectives on Aristotle’s De anima (to be published in the Series ‘Philosophes Médiévaux’, Peeters Publ.), both volumes appearing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the De Wulf Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy at K.U. Leuven and U.C. Louvain. Contributions by: Enrico Berti, Klaus Corcilius, Frans de Haas, Andrea Falcon, Patrick Macfarlane, Pierre-Marie Morel, Ronald Polansky, R.W. Sharples, Nathanael Stein, Annick Stevens, Joel Yurdin, Marco Zingano.

Animal Pragmatism Cover

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Animal Pragmatism

Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships

Erin McKenna and Andrew Light, eds.

What does American pragmatism contribute to contemporary debates about human-animal relationships? Does it acknowledge our connections to all living things? Does it bring us closer to an ethical treatment of all animals? What about hunting, vegetarianism, animal experimentation, and the welfare of farm animals? While questions about human relations with animals have been with us for millennia, there has been a marked rise in public awareness about animal issues -- even McDonald's advertises that they use humanely treated animals as food sources. In Animal Pragmatism, 12 lively and provocative essays address concerns at the intersection of pragmatist philosophy and animal welfare. Topics cover a broad range of issues, including moral consideration of animals, the ethics of animal experimentation, institutional animal care, environmental protection of animal habitat, farm animal welfare, animal communication, and animal morals. Readers who interact with animals, whether as pets or on a plate, will find a robust and fascinating exploration of human-nonhuman relationships.

Contributors are James M. Albrecht, Douglas R. Anderson, Steven Fesmire, Glenn Kuehn, Todd Lekan, Andrew Light, John J. McDermott, Erin McKenna, Phillip McReynolds, Ben Minteer, Matthew Pamental, Paul Thompson, and Jennifer Welchman.

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Animal Sacrifices

The Animal That Therefore I Am Cover

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The Animal That Therefore I Am

Jacques Derrida

The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida's ten-hour address to the 1997 Crisy conference entitled The Autobiographical Animal,the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session.The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida's work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction-dating from Descartes-between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single the animal.Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses tothe question in the work of each of them.The book's autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida's experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of man's dominion over the beastsand trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or btises. The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of lifeto which he returned in much of his later work.

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Anorexia and Mimetic Desire

René Girard

René Girard shows that all desires are contagious—and the desire to be thin is no exception. In this compelling new book, Girard ties the anorexia epidemic to what he calls mimetic desire: a desire imitated from a model. Girard has long argued that, far from being spontaneous, our most intimate desires are copied from what we see around us. In a culture obsessed with thinness, the rise of eating disorders should be no surprise. When everyone is trying to slim down, Girard asks, how can we convince anorexic patients to have a healthy outlook on eating? Mixing theoretical sophistication with irreverent common sense, Girard denounces a “culture of anorexia” and takes apart the competitive impulse that fuels the game of conspicuous non-consumption. He shows that showing off a slim physique is not enough—the real aim is to be skinnier than one’s rivals. In the race to lose the most weight, the winners are bound to be thinner and thinner. Taken to extremes, this tendency to escalation can only lead to tragic results. Featuring a foreword by neuropsychiatrist Jean-Michel Oughourlian and an introductory essay by anthropologist Mark R. Anspach, the volume concludes with an illuminating conversation between René Girard, Mark R. Anspach, and Laurence Tacou.

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Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word

Eileen C. Sweeney

Sweeney's study offers a comprehensive picture of Anselm's thought and its development, from the early, intimate, monastically based meditations to the later, public, proto-scholastic disputations

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