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America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense Cover

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America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense

Scott Philip Segrest

From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, seminal thinkers have declared “common sense” essential for moral discernment and civilized living. Yet the story of commonsense philosophy is not well known today.
 
            In America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense, Scott Segrest traces the history and explores the personal and social meaning of common sense as understood especially in American thought and as reflected specifically in the writings of three paradigmatic thinkers: John Witherspoon, James McCosh, and William James. The first two represent Scottish Common Sense and the third, Pragmatism, the schools that together dominated American higher thought for nearly two centuries.
 
Educated Americans of the founding period warmly received Scottish Common Sense, Segrest writes, because it reflected so well what they already thought, and he uncovers the basic elements of American common sense in examining the thought of Witherspoon, who introduced that philosophy to them. With McCosh, he shows the furthest development and limits of the philosophy, and with it of American common sense in its Scottish realist phase. With James, he shows other dimensions of common sense that Americans had long embraced but that had never been examined philosophically.
 
            Clearly, Segrest’s work is much more than an intellectual history. It is a study of the American mind and of common sense itself—its essential character and its human significance, both moral and political. It was common sense, he affirms, that underlay the Declaration of Independence and the founders’ ideas of right and obligation that are still with us today. Segrest suggests that understanding this foundation and James’s refreshing of it could be the key to maintaining America’s vital moral core against a growing alienation from common sense across the Western world.
 
Stressing the urgency of understanding and preserving common sense, Segrest’s work sheds new light on an undervalued aspect of American thought and experience, helping us to perceive the ramifications of commonsense philosophy for dignified living.

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.

An American Philosophy of Social Security: Evolution and Issues Cover

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An American Philosophy of Social Security: Evolution and Issues

James Douglas Brown

Is our system of social security, which involves an annual dispersement of thirty billion dollars, as effective and as equitable as it might be? J. Douglas Brown's analysis of the policies of this program and the philosophy on which it was built offers insights into its relation to our social and political systems.

He was one of a small number of people who drafted the original Social Security program enacted in 1935.

He views a national welfare system as a necessary adjunct to our national system of social insurance (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) and fears that without it the role of social insurance to prevent dependency may be distorted. Social insurance, according to Dr. Brown, should extend normal self-sufficiency when contingencies interrupt income normally received, whereas public assistance should remain distinct from social insurance and protect those unable to support themselves.

Dr. Blown also addresses himself to the questions of graduated income as a source of social insurance revenues, determination of benefits as related to an individual's imputed needs based on his average earnings, and permanent vesting of pension credits accrued under private programs.

The most urgent need is tor a better distribution of health services to alleviate a situation in which doctors are seemingly more concerned with preserving an obsolete but lucrative system of compensation than with cooperating to reorganize an essential service.

Originally published in 1972.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

The American Revolution In the Law Cover

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The American Revolution In the Law

Anglo-American Jurisprudence before John Marshall

Shannon C. Stimson

In 1773 John Adams observed that one source of tension in the debate between England and the colonies could be traced to the different conceptions each side had of the terms "legally" and "constitutionally"--different conceptions that were, as Shannon Stimson here demonstrates, symptomatic of deeper jurisprudential, political, and even epistemological differences between the two governmental outlooks. This study of the political and legal thought of the American revolution and founding period explores the differences between late eighteenth-century British and American perceptions of the judicial and jural power.

In Stimson's book, which will interest both historians and theorists of law and politics, the study of colonial juries provides an incisive tool for organizing, interpreting, and evaluating various strands of American political theory, and for challenging the common assumption of a basic unity of vision of the roots of Anglo-American jurisprudence. The author introduces an original concept, that of "judicial space," to account for the development of the highly political role of the Supreme Court, a judicial body that has no clear counterpart in English jurisprudence.

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Analogia Entis Cover

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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.

Analytic Philosophy in America Cover

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Analytic Philosophy in America

And Other Historical and Contemporary Essays

Scott Soames

In this collection of recent and unpublished essays, leading analytic philosopher Scott Soames traces milestones in his field from its beginnings in Britain and Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, through its subsequent growth in the United States, up to its present as the world’s most vigorous philosophical tradition. The central essay chronicles how analytic philosophy developed in the United States out of American pragmatism, the impact of European visitors and immigrants, the midcentury transformation of the Harvard philosophy department, and the rapid spread of the analytic approach that followed. Another essay explains the methodology guiding analytic philosophy, from the logicism of Frege and Russell through Wittgenstein’s linguistic turn and Carnap’s vision of replacing metaphysics with philosophy of science. Further essays review advances in logic and the philosophy of mathematics that laid the foundation for a rigorous, scientific study of language, meaning, and information. Other essays discuss W.V.O. Quine, David K. Lewis, Saul Kripke, the Frege-Russell analysis of quantification, Russell’s attempt to eliminate sets with his “no class theory,” and the Quine-Carnap dispute over meaning and ontology. The collection then turns to topics at the frontier of philosophy of language. The final essays, combining philosophy of language and law, advance a sophisticated originalist theory of interpretation and apply it to U.S. constitutional rulings about due process.

The Analytic Tradition in Philosophy, Volume 1 Cover

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The Analytic Tradition in Philosophy, Volume 1

The Founding Giants

Scott Soames

This is the first of five volumes of a definitive history of analytic philosophy from the invention of modern logic in 1879 to the end of the twentieth century. Scott Soames, a leading philosopher of language and historian of analytic philosophy, provides the fullest and most detailed account of the analytic tradition yet published, one that is unmatched in its chronological range, topics covered, and depth of treatment. Focusing on the major milestones and distinguishing them from the dead ends, Soames gives a seminal account of where the analytic tradition has been and where it appears to be heading.

Volume 1 examines the initial phase of the analytic tradition through the major contributions of three of its four founding giants—Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and G. E. Moore. Soames describes and analyzes their work in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and the philosophy of language. He explains how by about 1920 their efforts had made logic, language, and mathematics central to philosophy in an unprecedented way. But although logic, language, and mathematics were now seen as powerful tools to attain traditional ends, they did not yet define philosophy. As volume 1 comes to a close, that was all about to change with the advent of the fourth founding giant, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the 1922 English publication of his Tractatus, which ushered in a “linguistic turn” in philosophy that was to last for decades.

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.

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