Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy: Rethinking the Politics by James Livingston

By James Livingston

On the flip of the century, a battery of recent highbrow and cultural currents got here jointly to reorient society - Progressivism, Pragmatism, feminism, labour activism, and purchaser tradition. during this paintings, Livingston reads philosophers like John Dewey along activists like Jane Addams and reveals of their rules an identical and novel feel of the individual's position on the earth. by means of drawing new connections among those advancements, Livingston recasts dialogue of the arrival of modernity.

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From the standpoint provided by that moral universe, he denounces twentieth-century consumer capitalism as a grotesque “system preoccupied with ‘making profits’ rather than 30 Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy with ‘making goods’” (18), as a “vast system of abstraction” (150: here he is quoting Edmund Wilson approvingly). Indeed it seems that reality itself receded under the new regime of reification. For example, Leach claims that once glass separated shoppers from goods on display, the relation between subjects and objects was obviously attenuated: glass walls “closed off smell and touch, diminishing the consumer’s relationship with the goods” (62–63).

If this account sounds simply fantastic, we should recall that in the modern epoch, the male subject typically defined himself by dissociation from the visible, by equating woman with what is seen, what is supervised, by man. ”15 We should also recall that Henry James, who was hardly a working stiff, proposed the same correlation between the “man without means” and a kind of “feminine” identity. Lambert Strether, the narrative compass of The Ambassadors (1903), is perhaps the most obvious example of this correlation—he is wholly dependent on Mrs.

8 By “frame of acceptance,” he meant what we would probably name as culture or ideology, depending on our discipline and temperament; he defined it as “the more or less organized system of meanings by which a thinking man [or woman] gauges the historical situation and adopts a role with relation to it” (5). But Burke often used the shorthand of “symbolic frames” to emphasize that he was examining shared sensibilities rather than theories. And he insisted that frames of acceptance did not promote passivity: “They draw the lines of battle—and they appear ‘passive’ only to one whose frame would persuade him to draw the line of battle differently” (20).

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