Media Center: 'America the Philosophical' by Carlin Romano
AMERICA THE PHILOSOPHICAL
Published by Knopf May 22, 2012
WHERE: AUTHOR TOUR: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC
“A tour de force…Encyclopedic, entertaining, and enlightening.
“A comprehensive and certain-to-be controversial diagnosis of the condition of philosophical thinking in America today.
“Romano sees philosophers everywhere today (whether they call themselves such or no), not just lounging in the groves of academe, and this will surely annoy some fellow academics. He realizes that philosophy has traditionally been the ballpark for white men to play in, so he makes a thorough effort to add to the team some prominent women, African Americans, Native Americans, gays and others.
“He begins with the famous white men (William James, George Santayana, John Dewey, et al.) and looks at key figures later on—John Rawls and Richard Rorty among them. Romano then begins his explorations of byways rather than highways, seeing the philosophical bent of thinkers who didn’t necessarily define themselves as philosophers—e.g., psychologists B. F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow and Howard Gardner. Then it’s on to literary critics Kenneth Burke, Harold Bloom and Edward Said. Political theorists are next, and the author also gives a serious look at Robert Fulghum and Hugh Hefner. He examines journalists as well, including I.F. Stone, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Moyers. Near the end, Romano makes a strong case for Isocrates, a rival of Plato whose thought, writes the author, was more pragmatic—as we are.
“Romano’s grip on his subject is fierce, and his tone, though critical throughout, is occasionally light (he alludes to Buster Keaton, Bigfoot and the TV show Justified). In the final chapter, he praises the philosophical talents of President Obama, a discussion sure to displease Republicans.”
—KIRKUS, in a starred review
“Romano’s breathtaking intellectual range and passion will make every reader want to be a philosopher.”
in a starred review
“Part love letter, part hand grenade, Romano’s commentary is sure to delight and infuriate.”
—Brendon Driscoll, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“Genuinely exciting and provocative…If Romano wanted to discombobulate the traditional landscape of American philosophy, he achieved his goal.” —Umberto Eco
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