The Liberatory Thought of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Liberatory Thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. : Critical Essays on the Philosopher King

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The Liberatory Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a philosophical anthology which explores Dr. King's legacy as a philosopher and his contemporary relevance as a thinker-activist. It consists of sixteen chapters organized into four sections: Part I, King within Philosophical Traditions, Part II, King as Engaged Social and Political Philosopher, Part III, King's Ethics of Nonviolence, and Part IV, Hope Resurgent or Dream Deferred: Perplexities of King's Philosophical Optimism. Most chapters are written by philosophers, but two are by philosophically informed social scientists. The contributors examine King's relationships to canonical Western philosophical traditions, and to African-American thought. King's contribution to traditional branches of philosophy such as ethics, social philosophy and philosophy of religion is explored, as well as his relevance to contemporary movements for social justice. As is evident from the title, the book considers the importance of King's thought as liberatory discourse. Some chapters focus on "topical" issues like the relevance of King's moral critique of the Vietnam War to our present involvement in Middle Eastern wars. Others focus on more densely theoretical issues such as Personalism, existential philosophy or Hegelian dialectics in King's thought. The significance of King's reflections on racism, economic justice, democracy and the quest for community are abiding themes. But the volume closes, quite fittingly, on the importance of the theme of hope. The text is a kind of philosophical dialogue on the enduring value of the legacy of the philosopher, King.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 380 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 30mm | 559.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0739197800
  • 9780739197806

About Robert E. Birt

Robert E. Birt is assistant professor of philosophy at Bowie State University.show more

Review quote

This is a masterful philosophical portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. The contributors to this volume demonstrate a marked capacity to communicate the essential ingredients and the profundities of King's philosophy in a strikingly lucid, comprehensive, and provocative way. What an important and stirring gift for those of us who have repeatedly called for more attention to King the intellectual! -- Lewis V. Baldwin, Vanderbilt University A strikingly original collection assembled by Robert E. Birt! Written primarily by trained and teaching philosophers, these critical essays will appeal to all who are genuinely interested in the thought, work, and witness of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here we see King as philosopher who both influenced and was influenced by Western philosophical tradition, and who was the quintessential nonviolent social activist. Depicted as a man of ideas and ideals, King's thinking about God, freedom, hope, democracy, the beloved community, nonviolence, and his optimism about the eradication of racism are examined, criticized, and re-envisioned as never before. The result is a more realistic and hopeful view of King's relevance for today. -- Rufus Burrow, Jr., Author of God and Human Dignity: The Personalism, Theology, and Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. Measured by its ability to display the rich potential for philosophical reflection that engaging with King as a thinker offers us,... Birt's anthology [is] a success...Birt's anthology is a very welcome spur to the kind of philosophical work that will treat passages like these as opportunities to take someone who has so deeply shaped our world seriously, with all the sharp, progressive criticism and sympathetic reconstruction necessary to doing so. APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experienceshow more

Table of contents

Part I. King within Philosophical Traditions Chapter 1: Is Our Belief that Martin Luther King, Jr. is a Black Philosopher Justified? John McClendon Chapter 2: Dr. King's Philosophy of Religion: A Theology of Somebodiness George Yancy Chapter 3: Dr. King as Liberation Theologian and Existential Philosopher James B. Haile, III Chapter 4: King as Philosopher: An examination of the Influences of Hegelian Dialectics on King's Political Thought and Practice Stephen C. Ferguson Chapter 5: Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Social Movement Intellectual: Trailblazer or Torchbearer? Maurice St. Pierre Part II. King as Engaged Social and Political Philosopher Chapter 6: The Struggle for Loving Communities: Martin Luther King, Jr.s Agape and World House Richard A. Jones Chapter 7: King's Radical Vision of Community Robert E. Birt Chapter 8: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Toward a Democratic Theory Tim Lake Part III. King's Ethics of Nonviolence Chapter 9: Ethics as First Philosophy: King, Levinas and the Praxis of Peace Maria del Guadalupe Davison & Dr. Scott Davidson Chapter 10: Martin Luther King on Vietnam: King's Message Applied to the US Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan Gail Presbey Chapter 11: Martin Luther King and Frantz Fanon: Reflections on the Politics and Ethics of Violence and Nonviolence Kathryn Gines Chapter 12: A Shocking Gap Made Visible: King's Pacifist Materialism and the Method of Nonviolent Change Greg Moses Chapter 13: Socrates, Gandhi and King: Politics of Civil Disobedience and the Ethics of Nonviolent Action Benjamin Arah Part IV. Hope Resurgent or Dream Deferred: Perplexities of King's Philosophical Optimism Chapter 14: Hope and Disappointment in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Political Theology: Eclipse of the Liberal Spirit Floyd Hayes III Chapter 15: The Aporia of Hope: King and Bell on the Ending of Racism Bill Lawson Chapter 16: The Concept of Hope in the Thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. C.W. Dawsonshow more

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