Philosophies of community: An inquiry into African -American sociopolitical thought
This dissertation examines several conceptions of community drawn from both mainstream analytic philosophy and from the African-American philosophical tradition. It scrutinizes these in light of the need to provide models that are empirically adequate to African-American experiences of community and that also provide ideals capable of guiding African-Americans in the struggle to rebuild communities in a context where many forces combine to undermine them.
I argue that mainstream traditions in contemporary Western social and political philosophy have failed in these tasks and I therefore turn to conceptions of community offered by prominent African-American philosophers. Following an examination of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “Beloved Community,” I analyze Cornel West's and Lucius Outlaw's ideals for African-American political community. In conclusion, I offer arguments for conceptualizing African-American community drawing on postmodern insights.
This dissertation brings canonical Western social and political philosophy into direct engagement with recent African-American philosophy. It argues that the distinctive nature of African-American experience requires that Black community be conceptualized in ways that transcend received views and inherited traditions. It concludes that the establishment of sustainable and flourishing Black communities requires the formulation of conceptions of community that are non-assimilative, non-separatist, “redemptive” and transformative and that these have not yet emerged.
0325: African Americans