African-American Philosophy: Selected Readings

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9780130846969: African-American Philosophy: Selected Readings

This anthology brings together a selection of historical and contemporary writings on topics in African-American Philosophy. Questions regarding a wide range of issues--including slavery and freedom, social progress, self-respect, alienation, sexuality, cultural identity, nationalism, feminism, Marxism and violence--are critically examined from different perspectives by well-known philosophers and by non-philosophers from many disciplines. It emphasizes the historical significance of the philosophical arguments within very specific social and political contexts. Features substantial extracts, and in some cases complete works by important 19th- and 20th-century social and political thinkers--organized under sections on Antebellem Critical Thought, Emigrationist and Diaspora Thought, Assimilation and Social Uplift, Contemporary Black Feminist Thought, Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience, Marxism and Social Progress, Rebellion and Radical Thought, Social Activism Reconsidered, Black Women Writers on Rape, and Alienation and Self-Respect. For anyone interested in the African-American experience and American history.

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African-American Philosophy is a topically organized collection of classical and contemporary articles on a wide range of social and political issues. Ideal for introductory courses that deal with African-American thought, this text includes an introduction along with a list of further readings after each section and a bibliography of historical and recent work in the field. Critically challenging essays are organized under sections on Antebellum Critical Thought, Emigrationist and Diaspora Thought, Assimilation and Social Uplift, Contemporary Black Feminist Thought, Civil Rights and Civil Disobedience, Marxism and Social Progress, Rebellion and Radical Thought, Social Activism Reconsidered, Black Women Writers on Rape, and Alienation and Self-Respect. The readings in this anthology represent substantial extracts, and in some cases complete works, by important nineteenth- and twentieth-century social and political thinkers.

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This anthology provides readings for use in courses designed to introduce students to African-American philosophy. Although recent debates regarding affirmative action, race, and racism are prominent in philosophy texts, a much broader ,perspective is needed to deal more adequately with issues of major concern to African-Americans. Indeed, this volume presents a wide range of issues that emanate from a history of African-American thought regarding social progress. I have based the selection on my experience teaching a variety of courses in philosophy departments, as well as in interdisciplinary studies programs, at several universities. In a philosophy course on African-American social and political thought that I taught at Stanford University the philosophical questions underlying the historical debates were the main focus with an eye to contemporary issues. When I taught a humanities course on philosophies of social change at Wheelock College, I emphasized the historical significance of the arguments within very specific social and political contexts, for in this interdisciplinary studies course, African-American philosophy was one of several components. Nonetheless, the reading for both courses included classic nineteenth-century texts and articles by twentieth-century writers.

Patterned along the same lines, this volume incorporates writings by historical and contemporary authors from many disciplines into a format that includes writings by philosophers, a format that opens dialog across disciplines. This serves a twofold objective. For the benefit of instructors and students who lack a background in African-American studies some of the basic ideas informing African-American thought are represented in many of the speeches and essays. There is also a benefit for students and instructors who lack a background in philosophy. In the essays by philosophers the style and method of philosophical analysis are given an application to questions that have a bearing on social policy regarding African-Americans. The references listed under Further Reading at the end of each chapter provide a guide to important books and articles on each topic.

I would like to thank the Prentice Hall reviewers for their valuable insight and comments about the manuscript: Rita Manning, San Jose State University; Jay M. Van Hook, Northwestern College; and David Theo Goldberg, University of California, Irvine.

I would also like to thank John Perry, Chair of Philosophy at Stanford University and Theresa Perry, Dean of Humanities at Wheelock College, for providing me the opportunity to teach courses on African-American Philosophy. I am deeply indebted to my graduate teachers at U.C.L.A., Angela Davis, Bernard Boxill, and Ronald Takaki, for introducing me to the history of African-American thought.

Tommy L. Lott

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