Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race / Edition 1

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Overview

Charles Mills makes visible in the world of mainstream philosophy some of the crucial issues of the black experience. Ralph Ellison's metaphor of black invisibility has special relevance to philosophy, whose demographic and conceptual "whiteness" has long been a source of wonder and complaint to racial minorities. Mills points out the absence of any philosophical narrative theorizing and detailing race's centrality to the recent history of the West, such as feminists have articulated for gender domination.European expansionism in its various forms, Mills contends, generates a social ontology of race that warrants philosophical attention. Through expropriation, settlement, slavery, and colonialism, race comes into existence as simultaneously real and unreal: ontological without being biological, metaphysical without being physical, existential without being essential, shaping one's being without being in one's shape. His essays explore the contrasting sums of a white and black modernity, examine standpoint epistemology and the metaphysics of racial identity, look at black-Jewish relations and racial conspiracy theories, map the workings of a white-supremacist polity and the contours of a racist moral consciousness, and analyze the presuppositions of Frederick Douglass's famous July 4 prognosis for black political inclusion. Collectively they demonstrate what exciting new philosophical terrain can be opened up once the color line in western philosophy is made visible and addressed.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"According to Mills . . . racism is not an aberration of an otherwise nearly ideal American democratic political system but is part of the political fabric, inherited from European imperialists. Mills examines emergent critical race theory and its movement beyond the political and sociological arena to the venerable territory of philosophy. Copiously researched and footnoted . . . an outstanding work that addresses one of the many racial issues of our times."—Booklist

"A collection of eight engagingly written, erudite essays. . . . There are two major themes here: the first concerns the philosophical professoriate, which is predominately—and, the author contends, dominatingly—white; the second is whether or not race moderates philosophical consciousness. These are deep questions, and in dealing with them, Mills address a broad spectrum of issues: black-Jewish relations, gender (the progress of women vs. blacks), white supremacy, racism, genocide, jurisprudence, and much more. The thought of philosophers and others from ancient times to the present is given incisive analyses, as are epistemological, metaphysical, ethical, political, sociological, and literary considerations. The subject of this book is long overdue for airing. Highly recommended for a variety of pertinent academic and larger public library collections."—Library Journal

"Mills' arguments are well made, well researched, and convincing."—MultiCultural Review

"The effort to make the reality of racism and black life visible is achieved— with a great deal more thought-provoking ideas than the title suggests."—Leonard Harris, Purdue University/Addis Ababa University. Ethics. January, 2000.

"Most philosophy done on racial issues has tended to take up a particular topic such as affirmative action. There is plenty of room for the kind of general strategy that Charles Mills is pursuing in Blackness Visible. The tone of this volume is serious and the argumentation thorough, and Mills displays a formidable mastery of the literature. Yet the essays are written with verve and wit."—Bernard R. Boxill, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"This is an important collection. Its organizing theme is that by analyzing the metaphysics of race-creating we can understand the importance of political analyses of the racial state. This claim is vital not only for understanding of contemporary racial problems, but also for enriching our understanding of philosophical anthropology."—Lewis R. Gordon, Brown University

Library Journal
The title of this collection of eight engagingly written, erudite essays by an African American professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois is a take-off on Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, in which Ellison graphically portrayed the American black person as systematically obliterated from society's consciousness. There are two major themes here: the first concerns the philosophical professoriate, which is predominatelyand, the author contends, dominatinglywhite; the second is whether or not race moderates philosophical consciousness. These are deep questions, and in dealing with them, Mills addresses a broad spectrum of issues: black-Jewish relations, gender (the progress of women vs. blacks), white supremacy, racism, genocide, jurisprudence, and much more. The thought of philosophers and others from ancient times to the present is given incisive analyses, as are epistemological, metaphysical, ethical, political, sociological, and literary considerations. The subject of this book is long overdue for airing. Highly recommended for a variety of pertinent academic and larger public library collections.Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Mgt. Lib., Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801484711
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,495,661
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Non-Cartesian Sums: Philosophy and the African-American Experience
Chapter 2 - Alternative Epistemologies
Chapter 3 -"But What Are You Really?' The Metaphysics of Race
Chapter 4 -Dark Ontologies: Blacks, Jews, and White Supremacy
Chapter 5 -Revisionist Ontologies: Theorizing White Supremacy
Chapter 6 - The Racial Polity
Chapter 7 - White Right: The Idea of a Herrenvolk Ethics
Chapter 8 - Whose Fourth of July? Frederick Douglass and "Original Intent"
Notes
Index

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