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Thinking The Plural: Richard J. Bernstein and the Expansion of American Philosophy is a text devoted to highlighting, scrutinizing, and deploying Bernstein’s philosophical research as it has intersected and impacted American and European philosophy. Collecting essays written explicitly for the volume from former students of Bernstein’s, the book shows the breadth and scope of his work while expanding key insights into new contexts and testing his work against thinkers outside the canon of his own scholarship. In light of urgent contemporary ethical and political problems, the papers collected here show the continuing relevance of Bernstein’s lifelong focus on democracy, dialogue, pragmatism, fallibilism, and pluralism. Bernstein has always contested the supposed Analytic/Continental divide, insisting on the pluralism of philosophical discourses and styles that contribute to genuine debate and save philosophy from stale academicism. This book enacts Bernstein’s pluralistic spirit by crossing traditions and generating new avenues for ongoing research. A central argument of the book is that thinkers of different backgrounds, using diverse, and even clashing methodologies, contribute to the understanding of a given problem, issue, or theme. This argument lies at the heart of Bernstein’s published works and is central to the fallibilistic pragmatism of his pedagogy. This book therefore does not rest on a single answer to a question or a univocal theme, but shows the differentiation of Bernstein’s scholarship through the extension of pluralism into territory Bernstein himself did not enter. The chapters, individually and collectively, demonstrate the force of Bernstein’s pluralism beyond mere commentary on his works.
This book will be of interest to many people: 1) scholars, students and others in American philosophy who have worked on or with Richard J. Bernstein or in the tradition of American Pragmatism widely construed, 2) those interested in the intersections between American and European philosophy or between the Analytic and Continental traditions, 3) professional philosophers, philosophy students, and public intellectuals concerned with the application of theory to contemporary ethical and political problems, and 4) those interested in an introduction to the key concepts animating Bernstein’s work and their relationship to the history of philosophy.
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