Today those who believe in liberal democracy must reexamine and reaffirm their commitments. Here, Charles Anderson probes our urgent concerns and questions. Even those who believe that liberal democracy is the best form of government may think that liberal individualism leads to selfishness, permissiveness, and irresponsibility. Many would teach a cultural or religious counter-ethic to offset the excesses of freedom.
Grounding his view in classic philosophic and religious ideals, Anderson argues that a deeper vision of individuality and freedom can lead to both a sound public philosophy and a worthy personal ethic. In the same way that we as humans try to understand our place in nature and the cosmos, Anderson seeks to understand how we, as unique individuals, can understand our place among our fellow humans. Beginning with friendship and love, he extends his inquiry to the relationships of teaching, community, work, and democracy. Anderson shows how the natural desire of free people to find meaning in relationships with one another can lead to depth and fullness both in private and public life.
Charles W. Anderson University of Chicago Press, 1990 Library of Congress JC571.A498 1990 | Dewey Decimal 320.51
Drawing on the legacy of prominent pragmatic philosophers and political economists—C. S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, and John R. Commons—Charles W. Anderson creatively brings pragmatism and liberalism together, striving to temper the excesses of both and to fashion a broader vision of the proper domain of political reason.
A distinguished political philosopher with years of experience teaching in undergraduate liberal arts programs, Anderson shows how the ideal of practical reason can reconcile academia’s research aims with public expectations for universities: the preparation of citizens, the training of professionals, the communication of a cultural inheritance. It is not good enough, he contends, to simply say that the university should stick to the great books of the classic tradition, or to denounce this tradition and declare that all important questions are a matter of personal or cultural choice. By applying the methods of practical reason, instead, teachers and students will think critically about the essential purposes of any human activity and the underlying arguments of any text.