The eminent scholar Lewis R. Gordon offers a probing meditation on freedom, justice, and decolonization. What is there to be understood and done when it is evident that the search for justice, which dominates social and political philosophy of the North, is an insufficient approach for the achievements of dignity, freedom, liberation, and revolution? Gordon takes the reader on a journey as he interrogates a trail from colonized philosophy to re-imagining liberation and revolution to critical challenges raised by Afropessimism, theodicy, and looming catastrophe. He offers not forecast and foreclosure but instead an urgent call for dignifying and urgent acts of political commitment. Such movements take the form of examining what philosophy means in Africana philosophy, liberation in decolonial thought, and the decolonization of justice and normative life. Gordon issues a critique of the obstacles to cultivating emancipatory politics, challenging reductionist forms of thought that proffer harm and suffering as conditions of political appearance and the valorization of nonhuman being. He asserts instead emancipatory considerations for occluded forms of life and the irreplaceability of existence in the face of catastrophe and ruin, and he concludes, through a discussion with the Circassian philosopher and decolonial theorist, Madina Tlostanova, with the project of shifting the geography of reason.
Table of Contents
Preface, with Acknowledgments
- On Philosophy, in Africana Philosophy
- Re-Imagining Liberations
- Toward the Decolonization of Normative Life
- Teleological Suspensions for Political Life
- Thoughts on Afropessimism
- Emancipatory Challenges of Blackness
- Disaster, Ruin, and Permanent Catastrophe
Epilogue: Conversation with Decolonial Philosopher Madina Tlostanova on Shifting the Geography of Reason
Lewis R. Gordon is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; Honorary President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies; Honorary Professor in the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa; Chairperson of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Public Philosophy; and Chairperson of the Awards Committee and Global Collaborations for the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was the organization’s first president. His books published by Routledge include Fanon and the Crisis of European Man, Existence in Black, Existentia Africana, Disciplinary Decadence, and, with Jane Anna Gordon, Not Only the Master’s Tools and Of Divine Warning.
"Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization is a tour de force written by one of the most brilliant and visionary philosophers of our time. This book has never been more relevant at a time when millions have suffered through a terrifying pandemic and then cheered at the courageous and necessary challenge to antiblack racism in the streets of almost every city and town in the United States. In accordance with the mandate to shift the geographies of reason Gordon foregrounds philosophies and political theories of the Global South but only to broaden the reach of such endeavors to move to a universality not bogged down by the violence of colonialism. The great ideals of dignity, freedom, liberation, and justice are defended on every page infused with the lessons and demands of emancipation that inhere in the struggles for decolonization. This is not a trendy book that tries to show us that we have grown out of the great dream of a new species of humanity to use Fanon’s telling phrase. The opposite is the case; it calls us and inspires us to fight on for the new 'species.' This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the complexities of our time and cherishes the hope that we can create a world worthy of the ideas Gordon eloquently defends."
Drucilla Cornell, Research Professor, University of Venda, Professor Emerita at Rutgers University
"If you are interested in enlarging the scope of not just knowledge, but also your curiosity in the discipline of philosophy as not just a 'stand-in and interpreter' but instead the fluctuating plane interwoven in 'shifting the geography of reason,' you need to read this book. If you are interested in what can be learned about the connections between what we are used to thinking and our very different ways of thinking, you need to read this book. If you think that 'cultural politics,' 'multiculturalism,' 'diversity,' and 'tolerance' are overused and misused words, you need to read this book. If you are overwhelmed by 'pessimism of the intellect' and hope for some 'optimism of the will,' you need to read this book. Lastly, since you are not going to be traveling so much in the future, maybe you can travel in the different landscapes and different exchanges, by reading this book."
Natalija Mićunović, Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia
"In Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization, Gordon offers a profound and challenging discussion of topics both abstract and immediate to make a case for the pressing need for a radical and wide-ranging project of decolonization. In so doing, he undertakes a daring and exciting re-orientation of our approach to such staid and often threadbare preoccupations as freedom, rationality, essence, justice, and the political, each of which is in desperate need of decolonizing. All of this is, at the same time, interwoven with engaging and challenging meditations on pressing issues ranging from the political situation in contemporary Russia, to the pragmatics of Black liberation in the U.S., to the uses and abuses of Afropessimism in and beyond the academy. The result is vibrant and exhilarating demonstration of the power of human thought in a political and cultural moment that consistently works to negate it."
Michael Monahan, author of The Creolizing Subject and editor of Creolizing Hegel
"In this deeply, prognostic reflection, Lewis R. Gordon expounds eloquently on the struggles for freedom, justice, and decolonization from a Black existentialist perspective. By shifting the geography of reason, prioritizing the responsibility of reason, and insisting on reasonability, his powerful critique of moralism and liberalism moves through paradoxes of political commitment and contemporary forms of decadence – Euromodernity, presumptions of justice, secularized theodicies, Afropessimism, and postmodern avowals. The remarkable site he delivers for political responsibility produces actions that reach beyond the self to the anonymous 'we.' There, in this space of the yet-to-be-born and of many who have become ancestors, he offers a future that is never ours, and presents an unexpected but profound understanding of political responsibility that is premised on a political form of love."
Nkiru Uwechia Nzegwu, SUNY Distinguished Professor