With much talk of President Obama’s pragmatism, there is good reason to explore what this means in terms of his commitments and his policies. When we call Obama a pragmatist, is this merely a way of saying he selects policies and makes decisions that work, quite independent and sometimes against principles he may hold? Or, do we mean to point to something more robust—a kind of pragmatism that emphasizes experimentalism as a cooperative venture, that locates principles in and assesses their (...) worth based on background experiential conditions, that eschews epistemic and practical certainty for fallibilism, that is oriented by a chastened hope, and that is committed to public deliberation as essential to democratic .. (shrink)
“Faith makes us, and not we it, and faith makes its own forms.” Published in 1888, “The Ethics of Democracy” is John Dewey’s first and most underappreciated attempt to address a problem inherent to democracy.2 How do I consider myself a member of “the people” that rule, and yet belong to the political minority? By minority I do not simply mean as determined by an electoral process, but also those minorities that are identified as such because of inequity in political (...) power and access. The question is therefore of critical importance not only in the American context, but for much of the history of modern democratic thinking. Either the answer implies the use of coercive force by majoritarianism that .. (shrink)
In Black Bodies, White Gazes, George Yancy investigates how the experiences of blacks both come into view and are simultaneously distorted by the racialized gaze of whites. In the process of distortion by whites, often unbeknownst to themselves, they are continually implicated in the oppression of blacks that reflexively reinvests "whiteness as the transcendental norm" (xxiii). Precisely because whiteness is tied to socially embedded historical power and privilege that functions on multiple levels of social life, undoing its ill effects, to (...) borrow from James Baldwin, is an ongoing process of entering "into battle with the historical creation, Oneself, and attempt[ing] to re[-]create oneself according to a .. (shrink)
This paper explores how Schutz’s ideas enrich and extend the ethic of care promulgated by feminist theorists such as Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings,Sara Ruddick, and Eva Feder Kittay. Using Schutz’s ideas about the I-Thou relationship, systems of relevances, and growing old together, the authorlays a foundation for continuing dialogue between feminist theorists of care and Schutzian phenomenologists.
Introduction -- Dewey and the problem of intellectual retrieval -- Avoiding the criticism : Dewey's darwinian enlightenment -- Redirection : religious certainty and the quest for meaning -- The plan of this book -- Part I: From certainty to contingency -- Protestant self-assertion and spiritual sickness -- Dewey's evasion of Protestant self-assertion and spiritual sickness -- Darwin, science, and the moral economy of self and society -- Hodge and the problem of human agency in the wake of evolution -- Reconciliation (...) and the quest for certainty -- Dewey and the meaningfulness of modern life -- Agency and inquiry after Darwin -- Inquiry and phronemacrosis : Dewey's modified aristotelianism -- Theory, practice, and the quest for certainty -- The experience of living : action and the primacy of contingency -- Contingency and the place of intelligent action -- Part II: Religion, the moral life, and democracy -- Faith and democratic piety -- Democratic self-reliance : Emerson, Dewey, and Niebuhr -- Reading a common faith -- Within the space of moral reflection -- The moral life and the place of conflict -- The expanded self : deliberation, imagination, and sympathy -- The tragic self : deliberation and conflict -- Constraining elites and managing power -- The danger of political pessimism : between Lippmann and Wolin -- Employing and legitimizing power -- The permanence of contingency : on the precarious and stable public. (shrink)
Dewey's conception of inquiry is often criticized for misdescribing the complexities of life that outstrip the reach of intelligence. This article argues that we can ascertain his subtle account of inquiry if we read it as a transformation of Aristotle's categories of knowledge: episteme, phronesis, and techne. For Dewey, inquiry is the process by which practical as well as theoretical knowledge emerges. He thus extends the contingency Aristotle attributes to ethical and political life to all domains of action. Knowledge claims (...) become experimental, the result of which makes them revisable in the context of experience. As a result, when we say a person (e.g., scientist, craftsman, or citizen) displays practical wisdom we are reading their judgments within a complex horizon, whose success as judgments require alertness and discernment of salient features in response to an uncertain environment. Contrary to his critics, he seeks to make us attuned to the world's inescapable, and sometimes, tragic complexity. (shrink)
Although little noticed by practicing theorists, narrative voice influences theoretical work. This essay presents a demonstration of voice as method, concentrating on brief segments of works by Garfinkel and Goffman. We attend to two methodological themes: how theorists use voice to establish intellectual autonomy, and how the use of voice influences credibility with readers. Garfinkel maximizes his autonomy by using narrative techniques that isolate him from his readers, and produce little common context with them as a result. Goffman maintains a (...) context for credibility with his readers by using a personal voice, but he uses this voice to request their indulgence as he follows his autonomous muse. Goffman's narrative self-indulgence prevents him from fashioning a coherent theoretical program for his readers, something Garfinkel's distant voice enables him to achieve. (shrink)
The work of literary structuralists, particularly Roland Barthes, provides sharper insights into ethnomethodology than symbolic interactionism, labeling theory, or phenomenology. Further, it suggests that the metaphor of text may be fruitful for analysts of everyday life. Greater theoretical benefits derive from that metaphor, however, if one applies it using the ideas of literary theorists outside the structuralist tradition.