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The Revival of Pragmatism: New Essays on Social Thought, Law, and Culture

by Morris Dickstein

Although long considered the most distinctive American contribution to philosophy, pragmatism--with its problem-solving emphasis and its contingent view of truth--lost popularity in mid-century after the advent of World War II, the horror of the Holocaust, and the dawning of the Cold War. Since the 1960s, however, pragmatism in many guises has again gained prominence, finding congenial places to flourish within growing intellectual movements. This volume of new essays brings together leading philosophers, historians, legal scholars, social thinkers, and literary critics to examine the far-reaching effects of this revival. As the twenty-five intellectuals who take part in this discussion show, pragmatism has become a complex terrain on which a rich variety of contemporary debates have been played out. Contributors such as Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Nancy Fraser, Robert Westbrook, Hilary Putnam, and Morris Dickstein trace pragmatism's cultural and intellectual evolution, consider its connection to democracy, and discuss its complex relationship to the work of Emerson, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. They show the influence of pragmatism on black intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, explore its view of poetic language, and debate its effects on social science, history, and jurisprudence. Also including essays by critics of the revival such as Alan Wolfe and John Patrick Diggins, the volume concludes with a response to the whole collection from Stanley Fish. Including an extensive bibliography, this interdisciplinary work provides an in-depth and broadly gauged introduction to pragmatism, one that will be crucial for understanding the shape of the transformations taking place in the American social and philosophical scene at the end of the twentieth century. Contributors. Richard Bernstein, David Bromwich, Ray Carney, Stanley Cavell, Morris Dickstein, John Patrick Diggins, Stanley Fish, Nancy Fraser, Thomas C. Grey, Giles Gunn, Hans Joas, James T. Kloppenberg, David Luban, Louis Menand, Sidney Morgenbesser, Richard Poirier, Richard A. Posner, Ross Posnock, Hilary Putnam, Ruth Anna Putnam, Richard Rorty, Michel Rosenfeld, Richard H. Weisberg, Robert B. Westbrook, Alan Wolfe

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