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America the Philosophical

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Carlin Romano, Critic-at-Large of The Chronicle of Higher Education and professor of philosophy and humanities, explores America’s philosophical culture. In America the Philosophical, he writes of the men and women whose ideas have helped shape American life over the previous few centuries, from well-known historical figures like William James and Ralph Waldo Emerson to modern cultural critics Kenneth Burke and Edward Said to thinkers such as Cornel West and Susan Sontag.

Guests:

Carlin Romano

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Comments [4]

Amy from Manhattan

Of course philosophy doesn't take "yes" for an answer. Philosophy is always asking "why?," & "yes" is not an answer to "why?"!

Jun. 27 2012 01:51 PM

Carlin Romano is just _wrong_ on the American inclination to challenge authority. Simply false. The US is arguably one of the most conformist societies in world history.

His case sounds like nothing more than another book idolizing a variant on American Exceptionalism.

If ever there was a time when we should have seen a challenge to authority, it has been during the financial crisis. But the New York Times and nearly ALL of the mainstream ridiculed and condemned Occupy Wall Street.

Romano sounds like he's trying to provide intellectually respectable after-the-fact justification for his own go-along-to-get-along approach.

If people want something that looks are genuinely philosophical challenges to authority, check out Edward Said's "Representation of the Intellectual."

Jun. 27 2012 01:50 PM
David

Hugh, you wrote: "The Times loves to ridicule people like Edward Said or Noam Chomsky. Barack Obama, Wall Street, the health insurance industry, military contractors, most of the profession of economics."

I too ridicule all of those PLUS the Times!! [NOTE: I don't ridicule Edward Said. I think he was terrific.]

Jun. 27 2012 01:48 PM

I'm sympathetic to Romano's line, but ultimately "the most philosophical culture" is borderline unintelligible. A philosopher like Richard Rorty would have found Romano's line near-incoherent.

Quantity is not quality. Romano should know that. And today, the US is deeply hostile to left or progressive thinking. The Times loves to ridicule people like Edward Said or Noam Chomsky. Barack Obama, Wall Street, the health insurance industry, military contractors, most of the profession of economics — all and more have made it very clear that no amount or information, fact, argument, or reason will persuade them at all, in the slightest degree.

So what are we to make of a society where so many of such variety are trying to persuade while so many are so resistant to persuasion?

On Thursday, we will see just how deeply hostile to reason and persuasion are the right-wingers on the Supreme Court. Case in point.

Jun. 27 2012 01:44 PM

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