Book details

Beyond Separateness

The Social Nature Of Human Beings--their Autonomy, Knowledge, And Power

By Richard Schmitt

About the Book

Two very different views of persons permeate our thinking. On the one hand, we are impressed by the many social influences that affect us all. On the other hand, we also demand autonomy and individual rights. We have, at present, no suitable vocabulary for giving their due both to our social nature and to the ways in which we are distinct from one another.In this ambitious and original book, Richard Schmitt criticizes the assumption that human beings are separate from one another—an assumption that underlies much of mainstream Anglo-American philosophy. Instead he proposes, following two decades of work by feminist theorists, that we consider ourselves as being-in-relation. A large part of the book is dedicated to clarifying these two competing views of persons. In the course of this effort the author examines different conceptions of autonomy, empathy, love, knowing, and power.From these discussions emerges a view of persons that illuminates the ways in which each of us is distinct from others and at the same time does justice to our participation in social networks. Schmitt shows that persons have considerable choice over whether to be separate or in-relation. The controversy between these two views is not primarily theoretical but about practice—specifically, political practice.

About the Author

Richard Schmitt is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Brown University. He now teaches at Assumption, Becker and Worcester State Colleges as an adjunct. Born in Germany, of Jewish parentage, he arrived in the United States in 1946. Best known for his introductory texts to Heidegger and to Marx and Engels, he has written widely about existentialism and political philosophy. Alienation—a topic at the intersection of Existentialism and Political Philosophy—has been a lifelong concern of his.