Notions of self-determination are central to modern politics, yet the relationship between the self-determination of individuals and peoples has not been adequately addressed, nor adequately allied to cosmopolitanism. Transcendence seeks to rectify this by offering an original theory of self and society. It highlights overlooked affinities between existentialism and pragmatism and compares figures central to these traditions. The book's guiding thread is a unique model of the social development of the self that is indebted to the pragmatist George Herbert Mead. Drawing on the work of thinkers from both sides of the Atlantic—Hegel, William James, Dewey, Du Bois, Sartre, Marcuse, Bourdieu, Rorty, Neil Gross, and Jean-Baker Miller—and according supporting roles to Adam Smith, Habermas, Herder, Charles Taylor, and Simone de Beauvoir, Aboulafia combines European and American traditions of self-determination and cosmopolitanism in a new and persuasive way.
About the author
Mitchell Aboulafia is Director of Interdivisional Liberal Arts and Professor of Liberal Arts and Philosophy at The Juilliard School. His most recent book is The Cosmopolitan Self: George Herbert Mead and Continental Philosophy (2001).
"Mitchell Aboulafia offers a gracefully presented and intellectually satisfying conception of transcendence for an age when multiculturalism is an undeniable social fact. Aboulafia's argument crisscrosses the Atlantic to bring into play its key themes—cosmopolitanism and self-determination. The result is a highly persuasive and sophisticated conception of human freedom that acknowledges the social and biological forces associated with Darwin without succumbing to the old dualism of freedom and determinism."
—Cynthia Willett, Emory University
"Aboulafia has written a fascinating and important book, one that reaches across intellectual contexts and advances our insights into the social medium in which we fashion our world and ourselves. The figures that dwell in this book come from different places and, while they are not unaware of each other, their conversations are surprising, and Aboulafia shows us ways of thinking and creating philosophical conversations that offer new insights."
—Robert Gibbs, University of Toronto