The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke: A Reader on Value Theory, Aesthetics, Community, Culture, Race and Education

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This book provides a comprehensive overview of Alain Locke's pragmatist philosophy. It aims to capture the radical implications of Locke's approach within pragmatism, the critical temper embedded in Locke's works, the central role of power and empowerment of the oppressed, and the concept of broad democracy Locke employed. Arguing that the school of thought Locke initiated is best described as "critical pragmatism", the well-known philosopher and Locke scholar, Leonard Harris, provides a clear and thorough introduction to Locke's thought that will be useful to students and scholars alike. At a time when critical theory in all forms-post-Marxist, legal, race, and gender theory-is undergoing a major reassessment, this volume is especially timely. Locke's critical pragmatism arguably avoids the pitfalls of critical theory, anticipates its tremendous contribution to human liberation, and offers an alternative to the limitations of classical pragmatism. This volume introduces unique individual interpretations of Locke and critical reflections on his philosophy. Each author, in the spirit of Locke's critical temper, offers their own contribution to extremely difficult issues.

Author Biography: Leonard Harris is professor of philosophy and director of the African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University. Among his numerous books are "The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, Philosophy Born of Struggle: An Anthology of Afro-American Philosophy from 1917", and most recently "The Conception of Racism."

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Editorial Reviews

Twenty-two essays explore the philosophical implications of the work of Alain Locke<-->a figure often associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Locke's pragmatism is discussed as it relates to cultural politics, aesthetics, theories of value, and education. Among the topics presented are how Locke's thought differed from other pragmatists such as Dewey, Mead, and Addams; his approach to representation; his model of multicultural cooperation; and the relation of his ideas to those of W. E. B. Du Bois. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
A valuable anthology suitable for those interested in the serious study of pragmatism or Alain Locke.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847688081
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard Harris is professor of philosophy and director of the African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University. Among his numerous books are The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, Philosophy Born of Struggle: An Anthology of Afro-American Philosophy from 1917, and most recently The Conception of Racism.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Critical Pragmatism and Value Theory
1 Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical "Race" Theory, and the Politics of Culture 3
2 Struggling with Stereotypes: The Problems of Representing a Collective Identity 21
3 Values and Language: Toward a Theory of Translation for Alain Locke 39
4 African Art and the Harlem Renaissance: Alain Locke, Melville Herskovits, Roger Fry, and Albert C. Barnes 53
5 Alain Locke's Multicultural Philosophy of Value: A Transformative Guide for the Twenty-First Century 85
Pt. II Aesthetics
6 Pragmatist Aesthetics: Roots and Radicalism 97
7 Alain Locke, Essentialism, and the Notion of a Black Aesthetic 111
8 Aesthetics and the Issue of Identity 127
9 Open-Textured Aesthetic Boundaries: Matters of Art, Race, and Culture 141
Pt. III Community and Culture
10 Two Lockes, Two Keys: Tolerance and Reciprocity in a Culture of Democracy 161
11 Alain Locke and Walt Whitman: Manifestos and National Identity 175
12 Alain Locke: Philosophical "Midwife" of the Harlem Renaissance 191
13 Alain Locke: A Sociocultural Conception of Race 199
14 Instrumental Relativism and Cultivated Pluralism: Alain Locke and Philosophy's Quest for a Common World 209
Pt. IV Edification and Education
15 Adult Education and Democratic Values: Alain Locke on the Nature and Purpose of Adult Education for African Americans 219
16 Alain Locke and His Contributions to Black Studies 235
17 Andragogy and the Education of African American Adults 251
18 Alain Locke: A Paradigm for Transformative Education - Addressing the Relationship of Knowledge to Social Concerns 263
Pt. V Paradoxes, Dilemmas, and Critiques
19 Values, Imperatives, and the Imperative of Democratic Values 277
20 Meaning in an Epistemic System 291
21 Alain Locke, Critical Relativism, and Multicultural Education 311
Pt. VI Postscript
22 Alain Locke Remembered 327
Select Bibliography 335
Index 345
About the Contributors 353
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