In response to the contemporary crisis of democracy as a way of life, in particular, the anxieties of inclusion, this important new book explores the contemporary significance of American philosophy (the pragmatism and American transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau) and tries to present new ways of cultivating political emotions and political citizens. To take up this philosophical-political-educational task, the book introduces Cavell’s idea of philosophy as translation– a broader sense of translation as being internal to the nature of language, and hence to the condition of human being as linguistic being and, hence, as political being. Translation is a lens through which to enhance the possibilities and to elucidate the shifting identities of American philosophy. Through this, a hidden tension within American philosophy, between pragmatism and transcendentalism, is exposed. Ultimately, the book presents a vision of an alternative political education for human transformation and perfectionist cosmopolitan education.
Part I: Introduction: The crisis of democracy as a way of life / 1. The crisis of democracy as a way of life revisited / Part II: American philosophy in translation / 2. The new dawning of American philosophy / 3. Pragmatism and the tragic sense of life: Reclaiming the philosophy of affirmation and chance / 4. American philosophy in translation / Part III: Philosophy as translation: Translation from pragmatism to Cavell / 5. Stanley Cavell and philosophy as translation / 6. Skepticism and translation: Living with the anxieties of inclusion / 7. The feminine voice in philosophy / Part IV: Changing politics, challenging inclusion: Political education for human transformation / 8. Changing politics, challenging inclusion / 9. Political education for human transformation / Bibliography / Index
Naoko Saito is Associate Professor of Education at Kyoto University, Japan. Her publications include The Gleam of Light: Moral Perfectionism and Education in Dewey and Emerson (2005).
Translation is both a skill and an impossibility. By putting translation at the heart of American philosophy, Saito has found a concept that amazingly leads Dewey's instrumentalism towards Cavell's transcendentalism, what she calls his an-archic perfectionism. Content with no fixed principles, beyond the language of mutual recognition, acknowledging only the blank impossibility of understanding ourselves and others, Saito outlines a Cavellian modulation of what Dewey called "democracy as a way of life." In our divisive time, this extra-vagant work of philosophy is sorely needed.