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The Primacy of Persons and the Language of Culture: Essays by William H. Poteat


Edited by James M. Nickell and James W. Stines (University of Missouri Press 1993)

This volume provides an excellent introduction to the scholarship of William Poteat.  The essays selected by Nickell and Stines cover a wide range of subjects, from Poteat's analysis of the epistemological crisis brought on by the Cartesian program to his first attempts at formulating an alternative to the mind-body dichotomy.  Diagnosing the present situation of Western thought through making explicit the philosophical presuppositions to which it is committed, the essays include theological affirmations, reflections on epistemology, conceptual analyses, as well as dialogues with other writers in the field of cultural criticism and linguistic theory such as George Steiner, Noam Chomsky, and Walker Percy. Most significant is Poteat's defence of the primacy of persons and his critical analysis of our cultural misconstructions of human awareness.  Of particular interest to scholars of philosophy and theology, the book will also resonate with those who share Poteat's deep concern for the state of human culture.  

Intellect and Hope: Essays on the Thought of Michael Polanyi


Edited by Thomas A. Langford and William H. Poteat (Duke University Press 1968)

This book is a collection of essays on the thought of Michael Polanyi.  The ideas of this Chemist turned philosopher have excited the interest not only of other philosophers but also of those interested in history and the philosophy of science, as well as political scientists, theologians, social theorists, and literary critics.  This collection is an attempt to bring together some of the creative engagements with Polanyi's thought in these academic disciplines.  The contributors do not offer a commentary on Polanyi, but rather endeavor to consider his philosophical position as a fertile ground out of which germination of other ideas issue.  In developing their rapprochement with Polanyi's ideas, they were requested to look at their own work in the context of his thought and to propose predictions for the future direction of the conversation around Polanyi's post-critical philosophy.  

Polanyian Meditations: In search of a Post-Critical Logic


William H. Poteat (Duke University Press 1985)

This book argues that rationality (the 'hanging togetherness' of things for us)and logic (the form of making sense of things for us) derive from the essential unity of the human mind and body. Defending the view that mathematics, no less than language, is preformed in our mindbodily being in the world, Poteat challenges the deep-seated dualisms of Western philosophy and culture that have, in his view, estranged thought about our minds from thought about our bodies and have held us captive to a picture of our world that has impaired modern life.  Poteat concludes that the forms of our knowing, doing, and being should be reorientated upon radically new grounds beyond (or antecedent to) the outmoded dualisms.  This argument has widely ramifying implications for recovering the sciences and the humanities and for reimagining what it means to be a human being in a convivial world.

A Philosophical Daybook: Post-Critical Investigations


William H. Poteat  (University of Missouri 1990)


Building on the revolutionary ground of Polanyian Meditations, A Philosophical Daybook endeavors to induce a radical and irreversible transformation in the way we apprehend the world and our being in it.  With journal entries composed over fifteen months, Poteat attempts the impossible: to strike through the veil of our literate imaginations to an archaic but still active reality that antedates literacy - the intractable and substantial actuality of the lively words we speak and hear spoken - through writing.  In a world threatened by our own false conception of our nature and our place in it, Poteat - by a feat of philosophical archaeology - seeks, still intact within ourselves, the ground for a new philosophy of the human.  

Recovering the Ground: Critical Exercises in Recollection


William H. Poteat (State University of New York Press 1994)


By means of the unprecedented method of critical phenomenology, Poteat shifts the axis of reflection from the putatively bedrock dualisms in which philosophy was conceived, to our lively, intentional mindbodies that are ontologically antecedent to, beyond the grasp of, yet implicated in, all reflection.  In these exercises, reflection's centre of gravity is shifted to our mindbodies, whose mediated whatness can be known in all of its forms of appearance - as material objects, organisms, makers, keepers and breakers of promises, husbands and wives, et ceterera - and whose unmediated thisness everywhere importunately "shows itself."  From this seamless ontological bedrock, all of our dualisms have been brought forth by reflection.  They never cease to be founded there; in action they disappear there.  How, on this new foundation, do 'reflection', 'interpretation', 'thinking', 'speaking', 'time', 'hope', and 'memory' come differently to do their work. 


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