chapter  6
13 Pages

Race-ing the Canon

American Icons, From Thomas Jefferson to Alain Locke
WithJacoby Adeshei Carter

Canons are in a sense a codification of an intellectual tradition. This chapter discusses how a serious consideration of race reorients one's to questions of canonicity in regard to American philosophy generally, and pragmatism specifically. Canons may just be obstacles, inevitable traps that get in the way of a deeper sense of engagement with the thought and work of figures or traditions that might be fruitfully investigated. The American racial canon is missing what every good canon needs: a lively active oppositional set of communities of inquiry. The American race canon historically excluded the very oppositional authorities that would have had the most theoretically corrective effect on its production. American philosophy is dilapidated by this derelictical crisis because it undermines the full articulation, comprehension, and appreciation of genuinely novel philosophical contributions of Afrodescendant peoples. The unprecedented, uniquely critical and radically alternative products of African American thought are not understood or studied as such.