Lost Intimacy in American Thought: Recovering Personal Philosophy from Thoreau to Cavell (Paperback)
  • Lost Intimacy in American Thought: Recovering Personal Philosophy from Thoreau to Cavell (Paperback)
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Lost Intimacy in American Thought: Recovering Personal Philosophy from Thoreau to Cavell (Paperback)

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Paperback 192 Pages / Published: 23/12/2009
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This title offers a critique of rationalism in contemporary American thought by recovering a lost tradition of intimacy in the writings of Thoreau, Bugbee, James, Arendt, Dickinson, Fuller, Wilshire and Cavell. "The Loss of Intimacy in American Thought" focuses on a number of American philosophers whose work overlaps the religious and the literary. Henry David Thoreau, Henry Bugbee, Hannah Arendt, Bruce Wilshire and Stanley Cavell are included, as well as Henry James, whose novels are treated as presenting an implicit moral philosophy. The chapters are linked by a concern for lost intimacy with the natural world and others. The early Marx would see this as the alienations in industrial societies of persons from nature, from the processes of work, from each other, and from themselves. Weber might call it the disenchantment of the world. In any case, it is a condition that forms a focus of concern for Thoreau, Bugbee, Arendt, Cavell and Wilshire as well as writers such Henry James, Dickinson and Margaret Fuller. These writers hold out a hope for closing the gaps that sustain alienations of multiple sorts and Mooney brings them into critical discourse with the secularised and constricted rationalism of contemporary analytic philosophy. The latter exalts 'objectivity' and encourages the approach that one should adopt a third person view on everything, dividing the world into rigid binary oppositions: self/other; mind/matter; human/animal; religious/secular; fact/value; rational/irrational; and, enlightened/indigenous. By contrast, each of the thinkers that Mooney discusses see writing as a way of saving the object of attention from neglect or misplaced appropriation, outright attack, or occlusion. His aim is to recognise the importance of non-argumentative forms of address in these American thinkers. The method he employs is analysis of particular texts and passages that exhibit a generous, often poetic or lyrical discernment of worth in the world. It is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of any one thinker or theme, but a set of case studies, as it were, or a set of particular explorations, each self-sufficient yet resonating with its companion pieces. Mooney's objective is to spark interest in those who are ready to recover Thoreau and Emerson and Bugbee for the sort of American tradition that Cavell has sought to discover and rejuvenate; the tradition, as Mooney puts it, of 'American Intimates'.

Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
ISBN: 9781441168580
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 363 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Few, said Thoreau, truly know how to walk, how to acknowledge the ordinary world as a sacred place. Edward F. Mooney answers Thoreau by taking us on a series of walking meditations through the broken and beautiful landscapes of our time: the terror of Kamikaze pilots and 9/11, the nobility of a broken statue, the wonder of birds angling in the sky with the sun on their wings. In the company of writers from Thoreau and Henry James to Stanley Cavell, Henry Bugbee, and Hannah Arendt, Mooney shows how philosophy becomes poetry, argument becomes prayer, skepticism becomes love, even especially in the face of doubt, pain, and suffering. This lyrical, searching, and intimate book will ask you to change your life. If reality is reborn in our acts of attention, reading it will do just that." Laura Dassow Walls, John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair of Southern Letters, Department of English, University of South Carolina, USA


"Throughout this sparkling collection of occasional meditations, Edward Mooney displays an uncanny knack for charting the loss of intimacy that serves as both motivation and theme for the distinctly American thinkers to whom he pledges his allegiance. American philosophy is never so vital as when it attends, as it does at Mooney's behest, to the (mostly) taboo themes of loss, bereavement, ruin, and death. These essays are courageous, haunting, insightful, and rich in personal gratitude. A fitting bookend to Henry Bugbee's underground classic, T"he Inward Morning"." Daniel Conway, Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University, USA


'Lost Intimacy is a transformative book. Ed Mooney weaves together, reconfigures and leaps beyond the genres and disciplines-poetry, theology, Continental and analytic philosophy, literary criticism-that make possible even as they limit our visions and affirmations. He thus finds new ways into the visions and affirmations of Thoreau, Cavell, Bugbee, James and others, leading us into encounters "along the very contours" of these writers' expression with a singular, evocative voice that transfigures these writings and makes new claims on us.' Tyler T. Roberts, Professor of Religious Studies, Grinnell College, USA


"Edward Mooney's eloquent and challenging Lost Intimacy in American Thought is perhaps even more encompassing than its subtitle suggests. While Thoreau and Cavell do indeed anchor the structure of this book and the places it explores, there are a host of figures that occupy significant positions in this struggle to regain something lost in our thought. Most especially, he examines closely the work of Henry Bugbee, an elusive figure among American philosophers, belonging both to a certain moment at Harvard and to a longer period of his life in the American West. (Bugbee's writing seems to traverse the various boundaries between nature and culture, including the more antagonistic aspects of each.) It is hard to imagine a more generous and more detailed accounting of Bugbee's interests and themes, along with an appreciation of his passionate and lucid prose. The pages on Bugbee are the most numerous and often the most rewarding in the book. For this account alone, the book would deserve a thought reading...But no one even partially drawn to such [Romantic] projects will want to ignore the power and the detail of this book."
-Tim Gould, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, August 2010

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