Pragmatism and american public religion
William Dean is a tireless proponent of a public role for religion in American society, most recently in his American Academy of Religion award winning book The Religious Critic in American Culture . He writes there about the importance of, and need for, both a common American spiritual culture and public intellectuals who would understand, criticize, and innovatively rework that shared American religion. Dean represents a metaphysical strand of American pragmatism. His thought is rooted in William James’s radical empiricism, Bernard Meland’s and Bernard Loomer’s empirical theology, and Alfred North Whitehead’s process metaphysics. He takes seriously what I will call the problem of cosmic estrangement. The American public religion that he advocates, among other things, is supposed to resolve that problem. Its theoretical core is Dean’s version of Whiteheadian panpsychism, which he calls ontological conventionalism.
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