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Between Dewey and Gramsci: Unger’s Emancipatory Experimentalism

West, Cornel

Roberto Unger's distinctive contribution to contemporary social thought is to radically
deepen and sharpen John Dewey's notion of social experimentation in light of the crisis of Marxist theory and praxis. Unger's fundamental aim is to free Marxist conceptions of human society-making from evolutionary, deterministic, and economistic encumbrances. He seeks to accomplish this by building upon Deweyan concerns with the plethora of historically specific social arrangements and with the often overlooked politics of personal relations between unique and purposeful individuals. Unger's fascinating effort stakes out new discursive space on the contemporary political and ideological spectrum. This space is neither simply left nor liberal, Marxist nor Lockean, anarchist nor Kantian. Rather, Unger's perspective is both post-Marxist and post-liberal; that is, it consists of an emancipatory experimentalism that promotes permanent social transformation and perennial self-development toward ever increasing democracy and individual freedom.

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Northwestern University Law Review

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Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
March 1, 2013