Sunday, November 7, 2010

Obama as Habermasian

I expect that my subject line seems eccentric. However, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard scholar of American intellectual pragmatism, has just published Reading Obama (Princeton, 2011) which argues, in light of a thorough reading of Obama’s young career as legal scholar and political author, that Obama is an “intellectual president” in the lineage of American pragmatism and that Obama’s critical years of development at Harvard took place at a time of especially progressive ferment in legal theory concordant with Putnam’s interest in Habermas and philosopher Richard Bernstein’s pragmatism (beyond that fact that “...many of Bernstein’s books...appeared regularly in the footnotes of law review articles and just the time when Obama was studying law at Harvard…”[134]).