Université d'Erfurt

Prof. Dr. Lenart Skof

Humboldt-Stipendiat am Max-Weber-Kolleg
von August bis Dezember 2010 sowie von Mai bis Juli 2012



The Role of Gestures in the Ethical Life of Pragmatism

The project discusses the uses of pragmatism in the contemporary contexts of personal and social ethics (including issues such as ‚ethics and corporeality‘,‚ethics and intersubjectivity‘ and intercultural related issues) with the aim of relating the consequences of the discussion to contemporary political ethics (‚ethics and solidarity‘). It puts into a dialogue its classical representatives, the American pragmatists – Ch. S. Peirce, W. James, J. Dewey and G. H. Mead and their most distinguished contemporary followers – the neopragmatist Richard Rorty and finally Roberto Mangabeira Unger as a representative of the ‚radicalized‘ form of pragmatism.
Following on from the classical and contemporary pragmatists the project develops a constructive proposal for an ethical pragmatism based on discussions of a wide range of our immediate and noncognitive experiences, as they have served (explicitly or implicitly) as a rich source for the various uses of ethical sensibilities in pragmatist traditions.
The role of the body is in the forefront of my analyses. Throughout the history of pragmatism, the body has been the focal point of many analyses, especially within the radical and immediate empiricism‘s projects of James and Dewey. By linking their efforts to the efforts of their main pragmatist critics (Rorty and Unger), the project argues for many important similarities over the differences among them. Finally, by linking the efforts of the classical pragmatists to those of the neopragmatists (Rorty) and radical pragmatist (Unger), and also to the recent work of Luce Irigaray, it opts for the greater role of ethical gestures in the life of pragmatism as practical philosophy, also by invoking some intercultural uses of the body in ethics (especially in Eastern, i.e. Indian philosophicoreligious contexts, such as Indian uses of breath as a key vital as well as ethical principle).

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