Martin Luther King, Jr., has been widely studied as a preacher, an activist, and an orator, but rarely as an intellectual. This groundbreaking book situates King as one of the most important social and political philosophers of our time, arguing that King's systematic logic of nonviolence is at the same time radically new and deeply rooted in African American intellectual history. Presenting a comprehensive genealogy of King's thought, Moses traces the influence of key African American thinkers and shows how King's (...) concepts of equality, structure, direct action, love, and justice can be seen as strands of a coherent philosophical whole. [As of Feb. 2014 the author has secured reversion of copyright from the publisher.]. (shrink)
White on White/Black on Black is a unique contribution to the philosophy of race. The text explores how 14 philosophers, 7 white and 7 black, philosophically understand the dynamics of the process of racialization.
When Alain Locke developed a philosophy of valuation that he termed “functional relativism,” he contrasted his position to “value realism,” apparently because he wanted to keep valuations free from being bound to status quo existence. This article considers Locke's philosophy of valuation in relation to the “realism” of Charles S. Peirce in order to show that there is an approach to realism that answers to requirements of dynamic, evolutionary growth and creativity. The argument begins by placing Locke's cardinal values onto (...) a compass-like diagram inspired by Black Elk's ritual acknowledgment of cardinal directions. The illustration of a hoop of valuation is used to explore the usefulness of thinking in terms of diagrams, with explicit reference to Peircean semiotics. Next the article pursues a context of valuation developed through the psychical philosophy of George Herbert Mead and recent work on Peircean realism. It shows how valuation may be viewed as an exercise in freedom, not confined to status quo existence. Sources of error are acknowledged and reviewed. In the end, Peirce's choice of realism versus nominalism is found to be consistent with Lockean commitments to shared living in communities of inquiry. A Lockean philosophy of valuation, therefore, is not necessarily antirealist. (shrink)
This review of books by Niemoczynski and Robinson considers how semiotic processes of consciousness posited by Pierce yield insights into experiences usually categorized as religious. For Niemoczynski, consciousness experiences iconic representation and then disruptions of it. Conscious responds to such disruptions by means of abduction, and this is the seed of transcendence. Niemoczynski develops these processes with attention to Schelling, Heidegger, Deleuze, Corrington, and Badiou. Turning to Robinson's book, we find a deep inquiry into trinitarian logic that considers early work (...) of Christian philosophers in relation to Peirce's new list of categories: firstness, secondness, and thirdness. While both books appear to seek new frontiers of naturalism, Robinson's work is notable for its engagement with an emerging field of biosemiotics. (shrink)
Given the loud and pernicious history of white supremacy, obvious conclusions would encourage us to abolish all vestiges of racialized naming. Nevertheless, following plain formulas encouraged by Frederick Douglass and MLK, Jr. this chapter argues that justice still demands instances of radicalized naming. When we focus on racism as a legacy of unjust naming only, we neglect the newer half of the problem, because the power of white supremacy is also to be found in what is not named when naming (...) is suppressed. If an ethic of whiteness is possible, that is if white people as white people can work in anti-racist ways, there are times when refusing to name oneself as white is to conspire in a cover up. (shrink)
Contrary to common belief, Martin Luther King, Jr. does not refute the right to violence. Yet in situations where a right to violence would obtain, King chooses nonviolence. While King's renunciation is often articulated in terms of ideal obligations to transcendent principles, this study makes the case that nonviolence may be preferred for material effects. In fact, King often articulated the case for nonviolence in two modes: the better known transcendental mode and the lesser studied material mode, what is here (...) termed his pacifist materialism. (shrink)
In its comprehensive overview of Alain Locke's pragmatist philosophy this book captures 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.
During two centuries of industrial revolution, history's most powerful ruling class has been produced, equipped, and armed to the teeth --not just with bullets but also with powerful media and an aggressive ideology of domination. Increasingly, the democratic institutions crafted at the dawn of capitalism are being undermined or overrun by corporate and financial overseers. Despite the fact that history gives ample reason to fear the worst for the future, social and political theory can be a form of resistance and (...) hope. The papers in this volume express this hope, exploring progressive and liberatory institutional conceptions; analyzing multiple experiences of alienation and culture; reconceiving gender, sexuality, and desire; and scrutinizing humanitarian intervention for both corrupted elements and future possibilities for the just defense of the defenseless. These papers were selected from among the best of those presented at the RPA's 4th biennial conference, held in November 2000 at Loyola University - Chicago. (shrink)
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in the family home on Auburn Ave. in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929, as the second child of Alberta and Rev. M.L. King. Alberta’s husband had taken up the duties of her father as pastor of the nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church, and her second son was destined to assume leadership of the congregation and community that had nurtured the family life. -/- Along with his older sister, Christine, and his younger brother A.D., the (...) young Martin King enjoyed the kind of security and prestige that would come with life in one of the leading families of Atlanta. He wrote and spoke of a childhood that was experienced with love and fullness. . . . (shrink)
To a world assaulted by private interests, this book argues that peace must be a public thing. Distinguished philosophers of peace have always worked publicly for public results. Opposing nuclear proliferation, organizing communities of the disinherited, challenging violence within status quo establishments, such are the legacies of truly engaged philosophers of peace. This volume remembers those legacies, reviews the promise of critical thinking for crises today, and expands the free range of thinking needed to create more mindful and peaceful relations. (...) With essays by committed peace philosophers, this volume shows how public engagement has been a significant feature of peace philosophers such as Camus, Sartre, Dewey, and Dorothy Day. Today we also confront historical opportunities to transform practices for immigration, police interrogation, and mental health, as we seek to sustain democracies of increasing multicultural diversity. In such cases our authors consider points of view developed by renowned thinkers such as Weil, Mouffe, Conway, and Martín-Baró. This volume also presents critical analysis of concepts for thinking about violence, reconsiders Plato’s philosophy of justice, and examines the role of ethical theory for liberation struggles such as Occupy! (shrink)
Racism in its more rigorous usage denotes a complex process of collective injustice whereby one group of people effectively enforces upon another group of people a system of social subordination and economic exploitation. -/- Although the term has been developed to specifically address relations between groups distinguished by racialized traits, which are ultimately arbitrary, the dynamics of racism also offer invaluable first approximations for modeling collective oppression as such. Historically, movements against racism, such as slavery abolition, antiapartheid, or civil rights, (...) have inspired forms of analysis that have been applied to sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and other global systems of collective injustice. . . . (shrink)
Martin Luther King, Jr. developed a philosophical logic of nonviolence in terms of equality, structure, nonviolent direct action, and love. Here we look at the way King's analysis makes use of each concept with a special view to the context of other Black activist intellectuals. This ebook is a slightly edited version of earlier print editions.
This chapter explores how the dialectical approaches by Mao Zedong and Martin Luther King, Jr., may assist philosophical analysis of nonviolent social change applied to achievement of economic justice and positive peace in this life. “Martin and Mao” are both interested in the theoretical and practical problems of creating conditions for a world where economic justice and positive peace may be pursued from within dialectical processes that are, in Mao’s words, “non-antagonistic.” The dialectical logics of Mao and King reveal a (...) convergence upon the claim that contradictions with antagonistic aspects can and should be transformed into non-antagonistic ones. Both philosophers value unity as an end, and both argue that our conceptions of purpose must aim toward a world where practical conditions of unity are taken seriously. Therefore, we must aim toward economic justice and posisdtive peace. (shrink)
Alain Locke makes epochal contributions to a philosophy of progressive democracy when he presents the human community as irreducibly arranged in "psychological tribes" or groups, which, in turn, require principles of intergroup relations. Thus, Locke develops a concept of functional reciprocity that allows us to evaluate group dynamics as more or less democratic. This is an advance on classic liberal theory of democracy found in the work of John Locke, for whom democracy is an arrangement between individuals who may establish (...) democracy through a principle of toleration. (shrink)
As if anticipating the thesis that we live at the end of history, Martin Luther King, Jr., argued that we live in perpetual struggle against evil and injustice. In his last monograph, King outlined six challenges facing black Americans seeking justice. These six challenges may be generalized into a nonviolent theory of social struggle applicable to various contexts. King's six challenges are reviewed: somebodyness, group identity, existing freedoms, powerful action programs, continuing organization, and a revolution of values. In this framework, (...) we see how King understood civil rights activism in a complex context of liberation, not confined to "protest.". (shrink)
Long about 2014 or 2015 Andrew Fiala was negotiating the title of a handbook project. Meanwhile, in March of 2016, editors of The Acorn were deliberating a revised subtitle for the journal. Both projects landed on the same key terms: pacifism and nonviolence. A zeitgeist was afoot. In this volume, we present Fiala’s framing of philosophical pacifism. Exemplary virtues still by and large belong to the warrior (nor are we here to dismiss the warrior’s honor as such.) Yet, as Steven (...) Steyl reports, the mid-20th Century revival of virtue ethics was accompanied by overt hostility to pacifism. If we are to take a courageous turn towards pacifism, we must learn to see how the history of nonviolence asserts compelling examples of virtue that deserve deep philosophical engagement on their own terms. On the surface, Tommy Curry’s American Book Award winning The Man-Not may appear to lie far afield from philosophical studies in pacifism and nonviolence. But closer engagement with the work teaches us things we did not know about the virtue of compassion. In Curry’s work we learn what it means to care deeply and unapologetically for the persons and livelihoods of Black men in America. (shrink)
Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Mahatma Gandhi, Alain Locke, Howard Thurman, and Dr. Huey Newton comprise central figures of concern in three feature articles of this issue. The fourth feature takes us on a climate march through Washington, D.C. where the central figure of concern is a broken global relationship. In addition, we offer book reviews that take up applications of nonviolence to counter-terrorism, of ethics to immigration, of pacifism to war, and cosmopolitanism to peacebuilding.
A recent trend in scholarship argues that certain features of affirmative action logic, such as group identification, quotas, and preferential treatments would be contradictory to principles of individual merit, nondiscrimination, and personal achievement that were once advocated by Martin Luther King, jr. On the contrary this paper will argue that King’s authority may be understood to clearly support the emergence of affirmative action principles. Furthermore, King offered an ethical framework that may prove helpful in resolving many of the problems that (...) arise within an affirmative action environment, with special consideration given to gender. (shrink)
Introduction to a special issue of The Acorn guest edited by Sanjay Lal: In this issue of The Acorn, Lal defends the thesis of his book-length argument that a democratic state should exercise a more engaged interest in religious education and practice, the better to ensure a more perfect union between religion and democracy. Acorn reviewer Gail Presbey looks at Sarah Azaransky’s book about This Worldwide Struggle that revisits connections between Black struggle in the US and nonviolent resistance in India. (...) Azaransky’s work pays special attention to Bayard Rustin. In his book, Gandhi After 9/11, Douglas Allen labors to free Gandhian philosophy from dogmas and absolutes, sometimes in keeping with Gandhi’s own flexibility, other times challenging the inflexibility or myopia of the Mahatma. In an author-meets-critics session, Karsten Struhl and Sanjay Lal take up Allen’s project in a robust dialogue. -/- In an article on “Revolutionary Nondualism,” Sanjay Lal apprehends a vital philosophical kinship between Stoic philosophy and Gandhi that allows Lal to apply Nussbaum’s critique of the Stoics to Gandhi for the purpose of showing how Gandhi might respond. In “Techno-Satyagraha,” Michael Allen presents a Gandhi-inspired, anti-dogmatic approach to political economy that is responsive to technological innovations. In “Why Pacifist Leadership Overcomes the Over-Demandingness Objection,” Federico Germán Abal defends a special case: whereas many people may lapse from pacifism without failing to be good, it is not over-demanding to expect more rigorous moral behavior from pacifist leadership. In a review of Judith Butler's book The Force of Nonviolence, Will Barnes discusses Butler's view that nonviolence is a demand for an equality of grieveability. And considering the book War and Health: The Medical Consequences of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, edited by Catherine Lutz and Andrea Mazzarino, Acorn reviewer Tom Hastings presents the case that a syndemics approach to the past two decades would explore how disease has been aggravated by social, environmental, or economic factors such as the post-9/11 wars. (shrink)
This review of Randall Kennedy's book--Race, Crime, and the Law--argues that Kennedy provides useful evidence to indict the prevalence of racism at the turn of the 21st Century but that Kennedy's definition of racism, which relies on explicit discriminatory intent, is too narrow to account for the value of statistical approaches that he presents. A logic of disparate impact is necessary to diagnose and remedy the systematic oppressions of racism. The reviewer also considers a structural relationship between liberal and radical (...) thought such that liberal approaches to power may be seen as practical validations of the genuine threat that radicals assert in theory. (shrink)
In our feature presentation, “Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy of Nonviolence and Truth" Douglas Allen explicates central Gandhian values and concepts in a way that gives readers a kind of ‘one stop’ source for appreciating Gandhi’s nonviolence. In an author-meets-critics dialogue, Court Lewis, author of Repentance and the Right to Forgiveness, defends and clarifies his argument that wrongdoers have a right to forgiveness. Our reviews in this issue invite comparative analysis: Philip J. Rossi’s book on The Ethical Commonwealth in History; a collection (...) of essays on Tolstoy and Spirituality; the third volume of The Selected Papers of Jane Addams; George Monbiot's Out of the Wreckage; and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s book, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance. (shrink)
After decades of service to The Acorn, editor Barry Gan--who received the journal from founding editor Ha Poong Kim--has passed the responsibility along. We are happy to announce that the editorial and business office of The Acorn has found a new home at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Texas State University. For more than a decade, The Acorn has been affiliated with a society that we have recently renamed the Gandhi, King, Chavez, Addams Society (GKCAS). The new (...) name adds Cesar Chavez and Jane Addams to the short list of role models that the society seeks to honor through scholarly study, but the short list is not intended to be exclusive. As a result of reorganization and transition we are adopting a new subtitle of the journal as follows, The Acorn: Philosophical Studies in Pacifism and Nonviolence. (shrink)
"Do the Crime, Do the Time," is a commonplace formula for the meaning of incarceration. But time is precisely what a person is prevented from doing under conditions of incarceration. The prison regime becomes increasingly inhuman as time is displaced, represented in the extreme manifestation of solitary confinement, where all meaning of time is purged to the point that "the box" in New York houses 4.4 percent of inmates and accounts for 31.6 percent of suicides as reported in 2001.
Drawing on contexts of critical theory offered by Simone de Beauvoir, Herbert Marcuse, and Angela Davis, this article argues that Alain Locke’s theory of valuation should be of interest to theorists who apprehend struggle as a process of desire. Locke’s value theory with its classification of “form-feelings” may be used to develop appreciation for value’s genealogical dependence on desire. This has consequences for theorizing the challenges faced by liberation from oppressive structures. A case study is provided from popular film.
In James Campbell's new book on William James, the greatest hits are covered: stream of consciousness, radical empiricism, will to believe, moral equivalent of war, varieties of religious experience, pluralism, and an open universe. Seven great concepts and maybe another seventy lesser relatives are skillfully presented in an organized, patient, and scholarly style. Campbell's wit comes through, repeatedly referring to James as a psycholopher, neither quite psychologist nor philosopher. At times we find Campbell defending James, for example against so many (...) simplistic critiques of "The Will to Believe." Bertrand Russell doesn't get it, which still confirms why "The Will to Believe" is so badly needed. At other... (shrink)
In this introductory essay the editor places the broad movement of Marxist philosophy into a tradition that, since Plato, has endeavored to stimulate desire for concepts of justice in contexts of flourishing commercial power. Although Plato and the modern philosopher both know the risks of such undertakings (it was majority rule that put Socrates to death), and although powerful commercial interests have never been altogether comfortable in philosophical company, nevertheless the academy and the work of philosophy proves to be a (...) curious necessity, as this collection of essays demonstrates. (shrink)
Peace philosophy tests the question of what must be considered in fulfillment of a duty or desire to renounce interpersonal violence in an already violent world. Is one not justified in using violence to defend oneself or others? If interpersonal violence on such grounds may be justified, may one not carry guns? Our feature articles in this issue of The Acorn address those recurring questions from the perspective of classic peace philosophers Leo Tolstoy and Immanuel Kant. Our three book reviews (...) take the reader on a global journey through peace and nonviolence philosophy with themes of ahimsa, Islam, and resistance. Finally, we say goodbye to a legendary sage in the field of peace and nonviolence studies, the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution and author of several authoritative volumes, Gene Sharp. (shrink)
A review of Allison Weir’s book, Sacrificial Logics: Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity, Routledge, 1996. Weir argues that even among feminists, ontological theories of self often commit the fallacy of sacrifice. Such ‘sacrificial logics’ presuppose that one self may only emerge in opposition to some other self; the birth of one implying the sacrifice of another. Weir does not dispute that self-developments in history often assume the costly logic of sacrifice, but she does not want us to import (...) into our theory an assumption that such sacrifice is inevitable. One consequence of the fallacy is the claim that making peace requires renunciation of the struggle for self-identity as such, thereby casting suspicion on so-called identity politics. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A commitment to receive input from stakeholders is often obligatory in the crafting of environmental policies. This requirement is presumed to satisfy certain conditions of democracy. In this article, by drawing from pragmatism, we examine the logic of participation and prerequisites of the meaningful game of asking for and giving reasons. We elaborate the nature and significance of three components—the game, the pleadings, and the reasons. We conclude by offering the conditions under which the stakeholder game might be considered (...) legitimate. (shrink)