Representative Practices

American philosophy series

Book 15
Fordham Univ Press
Free sample

Although widely recognized as founder and key figure in the current re-emergence of pragmatism, Charles Peirce is rarely brought into contemporary dialogue. In this book, Kory Sorrell shows that Peirce has much to offer contemporary debate and deepens the value of Peirce's view of representation in light of feminist epistemology, philosophy of science, and cultural anthropology.

Drawing also on William James and John Dewey, Sorrell identifies ways in which bias, authority, and purpose are ineluctable constituents of shared representation. He nevertheless defends Peirce's realistic account of representation, showing how the independently real world both constrains social representation and informs its content.

Most importantly, Sorrell shows how members of a given community not only represent but transform a shared world--and how those practices of representation may, and should, be improved.

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About the author


Kory Sorrell is a visiting Professor in the Cultures, Civilizations, and Ideas Program at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Fordham Univ Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2004
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Pages
202
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ISBN
9780823223541
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Criticism
Philosophy / Movements / Pragmatism
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In this engaging book, Douglas Anderson begins with the assumption that philosophy--the Greek love of wisdom--is alive and well in American culture. At the same time, professional philosophy remains relatively invisible.

Anderson traverses American life to find places in the wider culture where professional philosophy in the distinctively American tradition can strike up a conversation. How might American philosophers talk to us about our religious experience, or political engagement, or literature--or even, popular music?

Anderson's second aim is to find places where philosophy happens in nonprofessional guises--cultural places such as country music, rock'n roll, and Beat literature. He not only enlarges the tradition of American philosophers such as John Dewey and William James by examining lesser-known figures such as Henry Bugbee and Thomas Davidson, but finds the theme and ideas of American philosophy in some unexpected places, such as the music of Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Bruce Springsteen, and the writings
of Jack Kerouac.

The idea of "philosophy Americana" trades on the emergent genre of "music Americana," rooted in traditional themes and styles yet engaging our present experiences. The music is "popular" but not thoroughly driven by economic considerations, and Anderson seeks out an analogous role for philosophical practice, where philosophy and popular culture are co-adventurers in the life of ideas. Philosophy Americana takes seriously Emerson's quest for the extraordinary in the ordinary and James's belief that popular philosophy can still be philosophy.

The philosopher John J. McDermott comes out of the long American tradition that takes the aim of philosophical inquiry to be interpretation of the open meanings of experience, so that we might all live fuller and richer lives. Here, the authors of these nine essays explore his highly original interpretations of philosophy's various questions about our shared existence. How are we to understand the nature of American culture and to carry forward its important contributions? What is the personal importance of embodiment, of living in the realization of death? How does our physical and personal environment nourish bodies and spirits? What does the deliberate pursuit of a morality offer us? How can we carry forward the fundamental tasks of education to enable those who follow us to use our shared past to address their civic and spiritual problems? What are the possibilities for community?

Together, these essays offer a clear, multi-layered understanding of the compelling vision that McDermott has presented over the years. In an Afterword, McDermott responds to the authors' queries and concerns, offering a restatement of his understanding of the American philosopher's task. These essays indicate, and McDermott's response confirms, that for him philosophy is not a purely cerebral activity. Philosophy is, rather, an intellectual means of exploring the fullness of human experience, and it functions best when it operates in the context of the broad sweep of the humanities. Similarly, for McDermott the self is no given substantial entity. On the contrary, it is relational, rooted geographically and socially in its place and its fellows, and damaged when these life-giving processes fail. Further, McDermott does not accept any ultimate canopy of meaning. The human journey is a personal project within which provisional meanings must be created to sustain our advance.

Larry A. Hickman presents John Dewey as very much at home in the busy mix of contemporary philosophy--as a thinker whose work now, more than fifty years after his death, still furnishes fresh insights into cutting-edge philosophical debates. Hickman argues that it is precisely the rich, pluralistic mix of contemporary philosophical discourse, with its competing research programs in French-inspired postmodernism, phenomenology, Critical Theory, Heidegger studies, analytic philosophy, and neopragmatism--all busily engaging, challenging, and informing one another--that invites renewed examination of Dewey's central ideas.

Hickman offers a Dewey who both anticipated some of the central insights of French-inspired postmodernism and, if he were alive today, would certainly be one of its most committed critics, a Dewey who foresaw some of the most trenchant problems associated with fostering global citizenship, and a Dewey whose core ideas are often at odds with those of some of his most ardent neopragmatist interpreters.

In the trio of essays that launch this book, Dewey is an observer and critic of some of the central features of French-inspired postmodernism and its American cousin, neopragmatism. In the next four, Dewey enters into dialogue with contemporary critics of technology, including Jürgen Habermas, Andrew Feenberg, and Albert Borgmann. The next two essays establish Dewey as an environmental philosopher of the first rank--a worthy conversation partner for Holmes Ralston, III, Baird Callicott, Bryan G. Norton, and Aldo Leopold. The concluding essays provide novel interpretations of Dewey's views of religious belief, the psychology of habit, philosophical anthropology, and what he termed "the epistemology industry."

In this engaging book, Douglas Anderson begins with the assumption that philosophy--the Greek love of wisdom--is alive and well in American culture. At the same time, professional philosophy remains relatively invisible.

Anderson traverses American life to find places in the wider culture where professional philosophy in the distinctively American tradition can strike up a conversation. How might American philosophers talk to us about our religious experience, or political engagement, or literature--or even, popular music?

Anderson's second aim is to find places where philosophy happens in nonprofessional guises--cultural places such as country music, rock'n roll, and Beat literature. He not only enlarges the tradition of American philosophers such as John Dewey and William James by examining lesser-known figures such as Henry Bugbee and Thomas Davidson, but finds the theme and ideas of American philosophy in some unexpected places, such as the music of Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Bruce Springsteen, and the writings
of Jack Kerouac.

The idea of "philosophy Americana" trades on the emergent genre of "music Americana," rooted in traditional themes and styles yet engaging our present experiences. The music is "popular" but not thoroughly driven by economic considerations, and Anderson seeks out an analogous role for philosophical practice, where philosophy and popular culture are co-adventurers in the life of ideas. Philosophy Americana takes seriously Emerson's quest for the extraordinary in the ordinary and James's belief that popular philosophy can still be philosophy.

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