The Bard Human Rights Project
presents a talk by
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University
In the wake of the controversies about whether John Locke’s involvement in the Atlantic slave trade impacted the writing of The Two Treatises of Government and whether Immanuel Kant’s failure to condemn publicly the use of African slaves in the Americas is evidence of racism, Bernasconi investigates the broader philosophical response to slavery between 1650 and 1800. He shows how incipient ideas of race operated in that literature. In addition, he proposes that historians of political philosophy should devote more attention to the debates about the enslavement of Africans not only for what it tells us about the failures of some of the canonical philosophers of the period, but also for what it tells us about philosophical argument more generally.
Robert Bernasconi is the author of "How to Read Sartre" (Norton 2007), as well as "Heidegger in Question" (1993) and "The Question of Languagein Heidegger's History of Being" (1985). He has edited or co-edited more than a dozen volumes, including a number devoted to the critical study and philosophical history of the concept of race. His vast bibliography includes work on Arendt, Hegel, Dubois, Levinas, Derrida,Fanon, Kant, Locke, Cesaire, and many others.