Pragmatism and Poetic Agency
The Persistence of Humanism
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Pragmatism is a humanist philosophy. In spite of the much-debated renaissance of pragmatism, however, a detailed discussion of the relationship between pragmatism and humanism is still a desideratum. It is difficult to understand the complexity of pragmatism without considering the significance of humanism. At least since the 1970s, humanism, mostly in its liberal version, has been vehemently attacked and criticized. In pragmatism, however, a particular understanding of humanism has persisted. Bringing literary studies, philosophy, and intellectual history together and establishing a transatlantic theoretical dialogue, Pragmatism and Poetic Agency endeavors to elucidate this persistence of humanism. Schulenberg continues the thought-provoking argument he developed in his previous two monographs by advancing the idea that one can only grasp the unique contemporary significance of pragmatism when one realizes how pragmatism, humanism, anti-authoritarianism, and postmetaphysics are interlinked. If one appreciates the implications and consequences of this link, then one is in a position to see pragmatism’s antifoundationalist and antirepresentationalist story of progress and emancipation as continuing the project of the Enlightenment.
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . .
Friedrich Nietzsche and the Pragmatists
- "Only we have created the world that concerns man!:" Nietzsche, Naturalism, and the Idea of Creativity . . . . . .
- "The humanistic state of mind:" James and Nietzsche . . . . . .
- Knowing Is Doing, Knowing Is Creating: Dewey and Nietzsche . . . . . .
- "But the answer to a great poem is a still better poem:" Rorty and Nietzsche . . . . . .
- Naturalizing Kant?: Constructivism and Pragmatism . . . . . .
- "This craving, this urge for beauty:" The Female Black Dandy in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand . . . . . .
- "Ah wants tuh utilize mahself all over:" Poetic Agency in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God . . . . . .
- Pragmatism, Marxism, and Humanism . . . . . .
- "All anybody ever does with anything is use it:" Edward Said, Richard Rorty, and the Task of Humanist Criticism . . . . . .
Pragmatism, Poetic Agency, and Race
Ulf Schulenberg teaches American studies at the University of Bremen, Germany. He is the author of Zwischen Realismus und Avantgarde (2000), Lovers and Knowers (2007), Romanticism and Pragmatism (2015), and Marxism, Pragmatism, and Postmetaphysics (2019). He has published widely in literary and cultural theory, aesthetics, and American and European intellectual history.
"This book is a necessary intervention into the debates over Humanism, an incisively-written guide to the ongoing importance of a philosophical perspective that has, for too long, been assumed to be a relic of the past. As Schulenberg reminds us (with apologies to Faulkner), that past is not past, and never has been." Professor Michael Bryson, California State University, Northridge
"Humanism is a contested word in the contemporary world in the same way as humanity is an endangered species. But the former (on a par with all kinds of anti-, post- or transhumanisms) is just one of many self-interpretations of the latter. There have been many humanists in history, even failed ones. The author of this book is a pragmatist humanist. He advocates this conception with rigour and meticulousness, but also with the focus on key points. His work deserves to be read, so that it can inspire us to rethink humanism in this creative, poetic and pragmatist way. Tolle lege!" Professor Emil Visnovsky, Comenius University, Bratislava