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Power in Theory and Practice

Upcoming special issue in Pragmatism Today

Power and authority take on new meanings when we consider an integration of theory and praxis. We might start such an inquiry with questions such as, “Does power entail an experiential conflict between individual expression and leadership?” “How do persons in authority judge individual liberty for others?” “How do enduring institutions, such as religions and moral norms governing life events, such as marriage, or even class coded languages, inevitably become static due to systemic unquestioned power relations?” Questions such as these come into focus as we attempt to understand many areas of our shared human experiences of agency and social change. This issue of Pragmatism Today is to be a study of power and praxis, as we ask such questions and test our conclusions, with a shared objective of improving our ongoing experimentation with democratic values and institutions. By democratic values we include liberal education, parity of possibilities, personal expressiveness, consensus, and a melioristic approach to our problems.

Contemporary pragmatic thinkers continue to search for alternatives to methods of social enforcement that allow some people to impose and control (rather than analyze and propose) truths and values. Dialogical methods, as alternatives to exclusively fact or value-based approaches, help us explore contextualized possibilities for shared values and rules, as well as critical reflections and self-awareness with respect to existing power relations. These approaches can become habits of our experiences, and symbolic in terms of hermeneutic interpretation. These are some of the terms of praxis to be discussed to invent ideas and methods that supplant destructive authoritative power relations.

Such research is important today, as we face the fall-out of a post-truth and anarchical era. Corrupt political affairs, the undermining of relational truth-telling, lack of trust in personal and public relationships, diminished expansiveness of knowledge, lack of culturally oriented education, and failure to creatively solve problems dialectically, are all problems upon which we can test and improve our theories and that possibly offer us new modes of action. So pragmatically we look to solutions, to ameliorate our problems. Consequentially, we want to discuss the influence of American philosophy, such as the writings of Richard Rorty or George Herbert Mead, as well as Continental influences, such as the philosophical technologies of Michel Foucault, to improve our new ideas and methods of power and praxis.

Surprisingly, histories that sometimes deter scientific and social progress because they express the ties that bind us as strangleholds to change, can also be fruitful instruments for the pragmatist. By our philosophical inquiry of the meaning and practical use of our personal and cultural histories, we want to expand our inquiry on power and praxis.

Please send your manuscript to Rebecca Farinas (rebeccafar38@aol.com)

Deadline for submissions October 30, 2022

Editor: Rebecca Farinas (Loyola University New Orleans)


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