Achieving Our Country (häftad)
Häftad (Paperback / softback)
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New ed
Harvard University Press
Harvard University
210 x 138 x 11 mm
200 g
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Achieving Our Country (häftad)

Achieving Our Country

Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

(2 röster)
Häftad Engelska, 1999-08-01
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Must the sins of America's past poison its hope for the future? Lately the American Left, withdrawing into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's shame, has answered yes in both word and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one of America's foremost philosophers challenges this lost generation of the Left to understand the role it might play in the great tradition of democratic intellectual labor that started with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey. How have national pride and American patriotism come to seem an endorsement of atrocities--from slavery to the slaughter of Native Americans, from the rape of ancient forests to the Vietnam War? Achieving Our Country traces the sources of this debilitating mentality of shame in the Left, as well as the harm it does to its proponents and to the country. At the center of this history is the conflict between the Old Left and the New that arose during the Vietnam War era. Richard Rorty describes how the paradoxical victory of the antiwar movement, ushering in the Nixon years, encouraged a disillusioned generation of intellectuals to pursue "High Theory" at the expense of considering the place of ideas in our common life. In this turn to theory, Rorty sees a retreat from the secularism and pragmatism championed by Dewey and Whitman, and he decries the tendency of the heirs of the New Left to theorize about the United States from a distance instead of participating in the civic work of shaping our national future. In the absence of a vibrant, active Left, the views of intellectuals on the American Right have come to dominate the public sphere. This galvanizing book, adapted from Rorty's Massey Lectures of 1997, takes the first step toward redressing the imbalance in American cultural life by rallying those on the Left to the civic engagement and inspiration needed for "achieving our country."
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Richard Rorty [is] John Dewey's ablest intellectual heir and one of the most influential philosophers alive...In lively prose, [Achieving Our Country] offers a pointed and necessary reminder that left academics have too often been content to talk to each other about the theory of hegemony while the right has been busy with the practice of it. If those criticized in the book dismiss it the way they brush aside the Blooms and D'Souzas of the world, an opportunity will be lost. Rorty invites a serious conversation about the purposes of intellectual work and the direction of left politics. I wouldn't want him to have the last word, but the conversation should be joined. If it is conducted with the verve of Achieving Our Country, and if it shares Rorty's genuine commitment to revitalizing the left as a national force, it will be a very good thing. The Nation There is much to be debated, much that will probably infuriate, in Rorty's picture of contemporary Left intellectuals... Achieving Our Country is meant to be pointedly polemical, and Rorty...[has] succeeded at stirring up emotions as well as thoughts. -- Vincent J. Bertolini American Literature In his philosophically rigorous new book, Achieving Our Country, Richard Rorty raises a provocative if familiar question: Whatever happened to national pride in this country?...[and] he offers a persuasive analysis of why such pride has been lost. -- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt New York Times Achieving Our Country is an appeal to American intellectuals to abandon the intransigent cynicism of the academic, cultural left and to return to the political ambitions of Emerson, Dewey, Herbert Croly and their allies. What Rorty has written--as deftly, amusingly and cleverly as he always writes--is a lay sermon for the untheological...[Americans] do not need to know what God wants but what we are capable of wanting and doing...[Rorty argues] that we would do better to try to improve the world than lament its fallen condition. On that he will carry with him a good many readers. -- Alan Ryan New York Times Book Review [In this] slim, elegantly written book...Rorty scolds other radical academics for abandoning pride in the nation's democratic promise; in their obsession with 'victim studies,' he argues, they have neglected to inspire the 'shared social hope' that motivated every mass movement against injustice from the abolitionists to the voting rights campaign. -- Michael Kazin Washington Post Book World The heart of Achieving Our Country is Professor Rorty's critique of the "cultural left." Barricaded in the university, this left has isolated itself, he asserts, from the bread-and-butter issues of economic equality and security and the practical political struggles that once occupied the reform tradition...Controversies are seeded like land mines in every paragraph of this short book. -- Peter Steinfels New York Times Mr. Rorty calls for a left which "dreams of achieving" America, a patriotic left he recognises from the days of the New Deal and which he remembers from the early 1960s when, for example, people campaigned for civil-rights laws to make their country better. Where, he wonders, has such reformist pride gone? In place of "Marxist scholasticism", Mr. Rorty wants a left which makes reducing inequalities part of a "civic religion". Yet material differences are not the only sort of thing that bothers Mr. Rorty about the contemporary United States. On a communitarian note, he argues that the "civic religion" he advocates should include commitment to shared values that rise above ethnic or minority loyalties. The Economist Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country is short, comprehensible and urges a civic and political agenda--the re-engagement of the Left...Rorty seeks to revive the vision of Walt Whitman and John Dewey, and what he sees as the real American Dream--a compassionate society held together by nothing more absolute than consensus and

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Richard Rorty was Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University and author of the landmark works Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature; Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity; and The Consequences of Pragmatism.


American National Pride: Whitman and Dewey The Eclipse of the Reformist Left A Cultural Left Appendixes Movements and Campaigns The Inspirational Value of Great Works of Literature Notes Acknowledgments Index