Cornel West and Pragmatism
Cornel West and Pragmatism Cornel West is the most important philosopher in America today. He is a public fgure and influences many people. Cornel is a African American born in Tulsa and grew up in Sacramento which heavily influenced who he is today, the city has a heavily populated with black power groups. West being a devout Christian, never Joined the Black Panthers movement although he did want to. In his early life he praised Malcolm X and the Black Panthers too. He then went to Harvard University where he says it broadened his thought immensely.
He then went to Princeton where he got is PhD and wrote his dissertation on Neo Pragmatist thought. Because West is pragmatic, he is an activist and is often in the public eye for his actions. The first time I heard of or saw Dr. West was on television. An HBO show called Real Time: with Bill Maher was on one night and I was viewing it and that was when I first saw Dr.
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West. They talked in a round table discussion about several modern topics and I liked his view on nearly all the subjects. He helped my decision in pursuing philosophy in school.
The host of the show would bring up how he wasn’t Just some smart person hat told others what to do, he would go out with the people and change things with them. I admire this and wanted to do the same. This is what makes Dr. West so important to American philosophy in my time. He is showing people and especially the next generation that it can be “cool” to study philosophy and it is not all about reading and studying. He gets on shows and radio stations and talks about things that everyday people can do. Dr. West makes philosophy worth studying and practicing.
He would want people to practice it more than study it. He teaches at ome of the biggest universities in the world and gets paid very well, instead of keeping his money and being wealthy he takes half the salary he deserves and donates often. This is him practicing thought and not Just thinking. What I liked most about Dr. West was that he was funny and humanistic, he was forgiving to others when they disagreed and would constantly be laughing. This was his pragmatic view of philosophy showing in real life. Neopragmatism was a thought movement in the 1960’s that was lead by Richard Rorty.
The movement was made to bring back classical pragmatism but with more mphasis on language and linguistics. Pragmatism is a philosophy that is an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. This means that life is made up of our actions and not our beliefs or what we think life should be. It is also very naturalistic, where nature should be saved and thought about. This philosophy of life fell to the waist side in America by the early 1900’s and it wasn’t till the 60’s that it would make a comeback.
Richard Rorty started writing on it again and it became a major view again. Without Rorty, Dr. West may not have known about pragmatism till later in his life and that could have shaped his career differently. Neopragmatism has more of a focus on language and linguistics in a sense that these things needed to be taught to every person. We should not talk about how education can help, we need to go out and educate and make sure every person can speak what is on their mind freely. While at Harvard, Dr. West wrote his first major works on ideas from neopragmatism, Marxist ideas, and Emersonian thought.
He is writing on popular thoughts of the time and putting them altogether unlike others who take one side nd stay with it. He changes how philosophy is done in America by not picking one side and saying that it is the way to go, he puts many ideas together. This could be because he originally goes to study language and so he understands that our language can be a barrier because it limits us from time to time so we should mix different ideas so we are not barriered in. Dr. West now does constant interviews and makes videos advocating for people to change.
This is what I call “West Pragmaticism”, a way of life that not only leads to one doing actions to help the world, but also advocating for others to do what is humanly ight. Being a Christian, he knows that it is important to go out and to fight for the oppressed and to keep fighting for what is right. This is where he differs from many other pragmatists, they would not be in the public so much and would prefer to keep their views only to the intelligent. I have always wondered why Dr. West is unlike any other philosopher and why other pragmatists are not like him when it seems that being in the publics eye is part of the view.
Cornel West is unlike any other modern or past philosopher. He holds no bias for any human, he is not sexist or homophobic r racist, although he does see the difference for all of them. He says that there will always be an oppressed people and it takes years for our minds to change. This country has fought for the slaves, then for women, than for African Americans, and now we are fighting for homosexuals. In one of his interviews he says that once this fight is over and homosexuals are allowed to be who they are, there will be another oppressed group to rise and wanted to be treated equal.
He hates that this will keep continuing but he understands it; for this, he does not teach people that they should e accepting of Just these types of people but to accept all peoples. If someone kills someone else, he does not care who it is, it is unacceptable. He first supported Barack Obama for president but since the time, the president has used drone strikes hundreds of times to kill. Recently Dr. West had been speaking on why he believes the president is a “war criminal” and how he is not the person who he believed he would be. Most think that because both the president and Dr.
West are both African Americans that he would support him but Dr. West holds him to a higher standard or that and won’t give him a break. Learning from Du-Bois, Dr. West knows that we as people should tight and stand up tor all people, even it the people witn authority over us disagree. The Marxist view is where this comes from. This view is what sets Dr. West apart from most other philosophers, especially in America. Marxism is strongly related to communism in most peoples minds and in American culture communism is pure evil. Many people try to stay away from Marxist ideas because they don’t want to be harassed by the public and government.
Du-Bois was harassed so much that he enounced the United States and moved at the end of his life, and he was marxist. Our country as a whole has grown since then but not much and that is Cornel West is one of the few promoting Marxist ideas. The others before Dr. West may have advocated that America needs a better education system. Only focusing on where they live and what will affect them, still pragmatic view but not as wide as saying the whole world, especially Africa needs better education systems. Dr. West would say something closer to the latter.
He will also credit anyone if he knows that their ideas ere before his and he built on theirs. After watching Just one interview with him one will see that he credits all writers and thinkers before him for his thoughts. Most philosophers will do this at a young age then once they are revered by many, they become egotistical and see their views as correct only. This only makes me admire Dr. West more, he is humble and does not let fame get to his head. So Dr. West is influenced heavily by James, Pierce, Du-Bois, Emerson, Rorty, Malcolm-X, Marx, and others but is very different than they are.
He takes racial ideas from Du-Bois and ixes them with socialist ideas from Marx and says that not only do the oppressed blacks need help from the world but everyone does. To him pragmatism is not the best thing to say about philosophy, as thinkers we should be doers and should be making actions in the real world, much different than the men we read about in class. For Dr. West action in the real world is the only thing that matters but without the views and thoughts of others they mean nothing, we must learn about these other thinkers too. Rights for all is what Dr.