Fashionable Nihilism: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy / Edition 1

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One of America's foremost philosophers reflects on the discipline and its relation to everyday life.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“If answers regarding the meaning of life and the purpose of philosophy continue to elude Bruce Wilshire, he is not alone. I am grateful to him for sharing his uncertainties, and also for reminding us of important issues that go to the heart of our lives as philosophers. I recommend this book highly.” — Philip Cafaro, Journal of Speculative Philosophy

“…Wilshire’s accomplishment goes well beyond this exposure of a fashionable nihilism. These elegantly crafted essays renew a style and scope of thinking that will be welcome to readers of Parabola, who can only lament a trend that threatens to have ‘the personal,’ ‘soul,’ or ‘spirit’ go the way of Zeus or Ahab—dated curiosities to be archived as folksy myths for the untutored … Wilshire swims against the tide, reclaiming from its sophisticated detractors the ever-abundant wonders, terrors, and sustaining intimacies of mortal life.” — Parabola

“A daring book! It demonstrates why and how philosophy must address the perennial questions of human existence. Failure to take up this challenge condemns the philosophy profession to irrelevancy and to the nihilism that has plagued it for too long.” — Kenneth Stikkers, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

“Wilshire illuminates not only philosophy today but the larger scene of the humanities as well. He addresses the question: Wherefore reflective, philosophically informed thought in America in the future?” — Edward S. Casey, State University of New York at Stony Brook

“This book blew my mind! It is a significant contribution to the growing literature assessing the fate of philosophy in the twentieth century, especially in America.” — Nicholas Capaldi, The University of Tulsa

Library Journal
For several generations, analytic philosophy has been in academic ascendancy in the United States and England. The effects on philosophic thinking and on undergraduates' concept of what to think philosophically might entail has been argued on the floor of the American Philosophical Association (APA) and in university bars but has rarely been brought to the attention of the general public, primarily because, like any other professional association, the APA tends to be heard as one voice, if it is heard at all beyond its membership. Wilshire (philosophy, Rutgers) brings together eight of his cogent and accessible essays on why and how pluralism bests language analysis when it comes to "doing" philosophy. (A ninth essay in this collection is a meditation on the death of his adult daughter.) Using evidence from APA convention behavior, comparing the contemporary state of professionalized philosophy with William James's prediction that acting like analytic philosophers "distends and dissociates us from our moral and psychical centers," and investigating the popular debate of whether we show ourselves to be as the result of nature or nurture, Wilshire leads the reader as a good philosophy lecturer might lead his class through a semester: historic positions are stated with all their attendant drama, arguments supported and found wanting, and active engagement is invited from the floor. While some academicians will be tempted to dismiss this volume as a screed against the politically favored way of thinking about thinking, many lay readers, graduate students, and philosophers will welcome Wilshire's head-on assault on establishment formulation of what is to be called philosophy. Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In his nine essay case against analytic philosophy, William James- admirer Wilshire (philosophy, Rutgers U.) discusses the nihilistic consequences of failing to reflect on the self, a pluralist rebellion in the American Philosophical Association, U.S. phenomenology, and his daughter's death to illustrate philosophy's purpose. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791454305
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Wilshire is Senior Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. He received the Herbert Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award for 2001 from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. He is the author of many books, including most recently, The Primal Roots of American Philosophy: Pragmatism, Phenomenology, and Native American Thought.

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Table of Contents

1 Nihilistic Consequences of Analytic Philosophy 1
2 "The Ph.D Octopus": William James's Prophetic Grasp of the Failures of Academic Professionalism 31
3 The Pluralist Rebellion in the American Philosophical Association 51
4 Phenomenology in the United States 65
5 Nature or Nurture?: The Significance of Indigenous Thought 95
6 Conceptual Problems in Grasping Genocide 107
7 Henry Bugbee: Philosopher of Intimacy 119
8 William James on the "Spiritual" 129
9 Looking for Bek 135
Acknowledgments 149
Index 151
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