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Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication

With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters

Edited By Jason Hannan

Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication is the first book to draw systematic attention to the theme of communication in twentieth-century academic philosophy. It covers a broad range of philosophical perspectives on communication, including those from analytic philosophy, pragmatism, critical theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics, feminism, psychoanalysis, systems theory, and more. What emerges is a vital, long-neglected story about the theme of communication in late modern academic philosophy. Each chapter features a «profile» of a particular philosophical figure, with a brief intellectual biography, an overview of that figure’s contribution to communication theory, and a critical assessment of the significance of that contribution. The clear and accessible organization of the volume makes it ideal for courses in both philosophy and communication studies.


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3 Richard J. Bernstein: Engaged Pluralist and Dialogical Exemplar VINCENT COLAPIETRO 65


3 Richard J. Bernstein Engaged Pluralist and Dialogical Exemplar VINCENT COLAPIETRO ________________________________________ The moral task of the philosopher or the cultural critic is to defend the openness of the human conversation against all those temptations and real threats that seek closure. —Richard J. Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, 205 My task here is to sketch a profile of the philosopher Richard J. Bernstein, an indefatigable defender of the openness of human conversations.1 This is at once daunting and appropriate. It is daunting not least of all because he is a prolific author, who is intimately conversant with virtually all of the main currents of contemporary philosophy and, beyond this, much outside of his discipline. But this undertaking is daunting above all because Bernstein has proven himself to be so skillful at this particular genre of discursive portrayal. One of his books is entitled Philosophical Profiles, and in the Preface to this work he explicates what he takes to be involved in sketching the profile of a philosopher or theorist. But, of greater relevance, he executes this delicate task in an exemplary manner, profiling such diverse thinkers as Richard Rorty, Alasdair MacIntyre, Herbert Marcuse, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and John Dewey from singularly illuminating angles of vision. While I cannot hope to match his skills in this regard—my profile of him is not comparable to his portraits of these and other thinkers—I have at least the advantage of his example. The task of profiling Bernstein is appropriate because he is...

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