|About the Book|
No philosopher in the second half of the twentieth century or the opening decade of the twenty-first did more to recover the voice of philosophy in the conversation of humankind than John Edwin Smith (1921-2009). From The Social Infinite (1950), hisMoreNo philosopher in the second half of the twentieth century or the opening decade of the twenty-first did more to recover the voice of philosophy in the conversation of humankind than John Edwin Smith (1921-2009). From The Social Infinite (1950), his landmark study of Josiah Royce, to Niebuhrs Prophetic Voice (2009), he has shown in compelling detail how philosophical reflection is relevant to contemporary life. Indeed, virtually all of the eventual developments within contemporary philosophy in recent decades worthy of our unqualified support (above all, the acknowledgment of history, the abiding importance of the religious dimension of human experience, the hermeneutic character of all our intellectual understandings, including those of experimental inquirers, the irreducibility of persons, the ubiquity of symbols, and the cutting edge of philosophical critique) were ones to which Smith was committed at the outset of his career. He not only anticipated these developments but also pointed the way forward beyond the stultifying impasses of so much contemporary thought. In particular, his conceptions of subjectivity, symbolization, interpretation, experience and philosophy itself provide invaluable resources for twisting free from our present impasses. The essays in this volume make the salience and implications of Smiths writings on these and other topics manifest. The authors assembled here bear eloquent witness to the wit of the man no less than the depth of the philosopher from whom they learned how to take up the urgent task of philosophical reflection in a world riven by seemingly intractable conflicts and characterized by mutual misunderstanding. John E. Smith was a widely learned man- he was also a deeply wise one. Hence, it should be no surprise that he aids us in creating ways to address such conflicts and to counter such misunderstanding.