Saturday, October 20, 2012

G.A. Cohen: Finding Oneself in the Other

Finding Oneself in the Other

by G. A. Cohen

Edited by Michael Otsuka

(Princeton University Press, October 2012)

240 pages



This is the second of three volumes of posthumously collected writings of G. A. Cohen, who was one of the leading, and most progressive, figures in contemporary political philosophy. This volume brings together some of Cohen's most personal philosophical and nonphilosophical essays, many of them previously unpublished. Rich in first-person narration, insight, and humor, these pieces vividly demonstrate why Thomas Nagel described Cohen as a "wonderful raconteur."
The nonphilosophical highlight of the book is Cohen's remarkable account of his first trip to India, which includes unforgettable vignettes of encounters with strangers and reflections on poverty and begging. Other biographical pieces include his valedictory lecture at Oxford, in which he describes his philosophical development and offers his impressions of other philosophers, and "Isaiah's Marx, and Mine," a tribute to his mentor Isaiah Berlin. Other essays address such topics as the truth in "small-c conservatism," who can and can't condemn terrorists, and the essence of bullshit. A recurring theme is finding completion in relation to the world of other human beings. Engaging, perceptive, and empathetic, these writings reveal a more personal side of one of the most influential philosophers of our time.


Editor's Preface [pdf]

1. Isaiah's Marx, and Mine
2. Prague Preamble to "Why Not Socialism?"
3. A Black and White Issue
4. Two Weeks in India
5. Complete Bullshit
6. Casting the First Stone: Who Can, and Who Can't, Condemn the Terrorists?
7. Ways of Silencing Critics
8. Rescuing Conservatism: A Defense of Existing Value [paper]
9. Valedictory Lecture: My Philosophical Development [audio]
10. Notes on Regarding People as Equals
11. One Kind of Spirituality: Come Back, Feuerbach, All Is Forgiven!

See some of my previous posts on G.A. Cohen:
* "On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice" (book with selected essays, 2011)
* Conference in 2009 in honour of G.A. Cohen (including an audio with Cohen reading poems)
* Memorial Conference in Canada 2009.

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