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Selzer lecturer on campus this week

February 11, 2013

021213 sandwich

Richard J. Bernstein, the 2013 Selzer Visiting Philosopher, will be on campus this week to visit classes and lecture.

The Selzer Visiting Philosopher Series, established in 2010, was made possible by a gift from John Selzer’77.

While in Beloit, Bernstein will give a lecture on “The Pragmatic Turn” (he has a book by the same name) Wednesday (Feb. 13) at 7:30 p.m. in Moore Lounge of Pearsons Hall. He argues that many philosophical themes from the past 150 years are derived from classical American pragmatists, and will discuss these theories in Wednesday night’s lecture.

Bernstein is the Vera List Professor of Philosophy and former dean of the graduate facility at The New School. He has written a dozen books including The Pragmatic Turn (2010),The Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11 (2006), and Radical Evil: A Philosophical Interrogation (2002); he specializes in American pragmatism, social and political philosophy, critical theory, and Anglo-American philosophy.

He received a B.A. from the University of Chicago, a B.S. summa cum laude from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. from Yale University. He took a faculty position at Yale, but in 1965, the university denied him tenure despite the initial unanimous support of his department, leading to student protests and eventually to reforms of the tenure system at Yale. This event, now called the Bernstein Affair, was “one of the most contested cases of tenure in the United States.” Bernstein then moved to a tenured position at Haverford College, where he taught for 23 years and became the T. Wistar Brown Professor of Philosophy before later moving to The New School, where the Richard J. Bernstein Endowed Prize Fellowship in Philosophy is awarded to distinguished philosophy students in his honor.

In 1981, Bernstein became founding co-editor of Praxis International, the revived journal of the Yugoslav Praxis School philosophical movement. In 1988, he served as president of the Metaphysical Society of America.