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The Task of Criticism

Essays on Philosophy, History, and Community

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A new chapter in American thought devoted to the authority of critique and the defense of democracy.

Erudite and eloquent, John William Miller's writing engages readers with his "earthy" treatment of basic philosophical questions. Designed as an introduction to a compelling historicist philosophy, this volume presents Miller's best and most representative essays in a single, authoritative edition. Miller (1895-1978) taught at Williams College, and he is well known for his extraordinary teaching (described in Masters: Portraits of Great Teachers). He was also a philosopher of the first rank, who arrived at a strikingly original reinterpretation of the history of philosophy and the perennial philosophical problems, especially dualism. Challenging the dogmatism and nihilism that mark so much of recent philosophy, Miller advocated a thoughtful and engaged approach to life—one that revitalizes philosophical activity, embraces history, and joins reflection with participation in a democratic community. The editors have selected twenty-nine essays and have composed succinct introductions to each. Joseph P. Fell has contributed a general introduction that places Miller's thought in context and exhibits the contemporary relevance of his philosophy.

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