Cover of On Philosophy by John McCumber
On Philosophy
Notes from a Crisis
John McCumber


288 pages.
from $35.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804781428
Paperback ISBN: 9780804781435
Ebook ISBN: 9780804783491

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Deepening divisions separate today's philosophers, first, from the culture at large; then, from each other; and finally, from philosophy itself. Though these divisions tend to coalesce publicly as debates over the Enlightenment, their roots lie much deeper. Overcoming them thus requires a confrontation with the whole of Western philosophy. Only when we uncover the strange heritage of Aristotle's metaphysics, as reworked, for example, by Descartes and Kant, can we understand contemporary philosophy's inability to dialogue with women, people of color, LGBTs, and other minority groups. Only when we have understood that inability can we see how the thought of Hegel and Heidegger contains the seeds of a remedy. And only when armed with such a remedy can philosophy rise to the challenges posed by thinkers such as David Foster Wallace and Abraham Lincoln. The book's interpretations of these figures and others past and present are as scrupulous as its conclusions will be controversial. The result contributes to the most important question confronting us today: does reason itself have a future?

About the author

John McCumber is Distinguished Professor of Germanic Languages at UCLA. His most recent books are Time in the Ditch: American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era (2000) and Reshaping Reason: Toward a New Philosophy (2005).

"Prolific philosopher John McCumber gives us a new treat and a new angle for reconsidering the history of philosophy in this book."

—Wendy Hamblet, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This book will be useful for any educated reader interested in learning about the state of philosophy today. Graduate students wondering whether they have made the right choices in life might find it particularly helpful, since the book contains a number of reflections on professional philosophy in the academy. Recommended."

—B. T. Harding, CHOICE

"This is a highly original book that makes a distinctive and significant contribution to a number of different philosophical debates, including the nature of reason, the philosophy of history, the modernity/postmodernity debate, and the relationship between metaphysics and oppression. Along the way, McCumber stakes out interesting and well-defended interpretive positions vis-à-vis Hegel and Heidegger. This is an outstanding work and deserves to be widely read and discussed."

—Amy Allen, Dartmouth College

"John McCumber's On Philosophy is an engaging, provocative, well-argued analysis of philosophy's current situation. Grounded in a strong reading of philosophy's history from Aristotle to the present, it is richly suggestive and provocative."

—Gary Shapiro, University of Richmond