Cornel West: A Critical Reader / Edition 1

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This comprehensive text offers a systematic and thematic approach to West's philosophical work. It moves the reader through his distinctive form of prophetic pragmatism, his historicist and improvisational philosophy of religion, his socialist democratic and truncated Marxist political philosophy, and his reflections on a range of cultural issues.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There could be no more appropriate response to West's intellectual breadth than to assemble intellectuals and activists with diverse scholarly backgrounds and to ask them to engage critically with the full range of his work. The result is a book that can help us to assess West's achievement, while deepening our understanding of many of the questions raised in his extraordinary oeuvre. It also bears out the double-meaning in this book's title: for West is, indeed, one of the great critical readers of the American progressive tradition." Kwame Anthony Appiah, Harvard University

"Many of the contributions to this volume are written by members of a younger generation of scholars who have profited from West's pathbreaking writings. Their essays bring into sharp focus this question: is there anything that philosophers, theologians, or other intellectuals know, or anything they can do, that might help the black underclass in the US escape from what West calls 'a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness." Richard Rorty, Stanford University

"Every American intellectual ought to spend some time thinking about West, and every large library should give readers a chance by putting this book on their shelves". Library Journal

"Cornel West: a Critical Reader is worthwhile not only because it honors West, who is indeed worthy of our recognition, but also because it continues, and therefore lends credibility and possibility to, pragmatic philosophical discourse aimed at eliminating oppression through the expansion of democracy and improving our facility in the art of living." Ethics, Vol. 113, 2003

Library Journal
Cornel West is a puzzle but one worth studying. An African American, he has risen to eminence first at Princeton and then at Harvard (where he is Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor and professor both of Afro-American studies and of the philosophy of religion). His long association with Afro-American studies does not exclude a global philosophical appetite; history, religion, culture, and philosophy are grist for his mill. His complexity necessitates a collection of essays like the 18 here. Still, readers must assemble their own pictures. There is a splendid essay by Hilary Putnam since the death of Quine arguably the greatest living American philosopher who has followed West since his undergraduate days. But Putnam's angle of vision is different from that of Josiah Ulysses Young III, who sees West as an American Emmanuel L vinas. In a telling "afterword," West calls himself a "Chekhovian Christian," but he would admit to being a L vinasian about human nature. He thinks of human beings as infinitely creative and able to rise above any limitations of culture and any system. He is also a Deweyite about social policies, arguing that we have to create a community based on mutual adjustment and the search for common interest. Every American intellectual ought to spend some time thinking about West, and every large library should give readers a chance by putting this book on their shelves. Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631222927
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/30/2001
  • Series: Blackwell Critical Reader Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

George Yancy is McAnulty Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Duquesne University. He is editor of African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations (1998), named an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice in 1999.

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Table of Contents


Notes on Contributors.

Cornel West: The Vanguard of Existential and Democratic Hope: George Yancy.

Part I: Pragmatism:.

1. Pragmatism Resurgent: A Reading of The American Evasion of Philosophy: Hilary W. Putnam.

2.The Unacknowledged Fourth Tradition: An Essay on Nihilism, Decadence, and the Black Intellectual Tradition in the Existential Pragmatic Thought of Cornel West: Lewis R. Gordon.

3. Cornel West on Prophesy, Pragmatism, and Philosophy: A Critical Evaluation of Prophetic Pragmatism: Clevis Headley.

4. Which Pragmatism? Whose America?: Eduardo Mendieta.

Part II: Philosophy of Religion:.

5. "Let Suffering Speak": The Vocation of a Black Intellectual: James H. Cone.

6. Religion and the Mirror of God: Historicism, Truth and Religious Pluralism: George Yancy.

7. Is Cornel West Also Among the Theologians? The Shadow of the Divine in the Religious Thought of Cornel West: Victor Anderson.

8. Cornel West's Improvisational Philosophy of Religion : M. Shawn Copeland.

9. Existential Aptness and Epistemological Correctness: Cornel West and the Identity of the "Lord": Josiah Ulysses Young, III.

Part III: Political Philosophy:.

10. Cornel West on Gender and Family: Some Admiring and Critical Comments: Iris M. Young.

11. Prophetic Pragmatism as Political Philosophy : Charles W. Mills.

12. "Radical Historicism," Antiphilosophy, and Marxism: John P. Pittman.

13. Cornel West and Afro-Nihilism: A Reconsideration: Floyd W. Hayes, III.

14. On Cornel West on W. E. B. Du Bois: Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr.

15. The Political Philosophy and Humanism of Cornel West: Howard McGary, Jr.

Part IV: Cultural Studies:.

16. "It's Dark and Hell is Hot": Cornel West, the Crisis of African-American Intellectuals and the Cultural Politics of Race: Peniel E. Joseph.

17. Reading Cornel West as a Humanistic Scholar: Rhetoric and Practice: Clarence Shole Johnson.

18. Cornel West's Representations of the Intellectual: But Some of Us Are Brave?: Nada Elia.

Afterword: Cornel West.

Select Bibliography of Cornel West's Works.


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