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Divine DiscontentThe Religious Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois$
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Jonathon S. Kahn

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307894.001.0001

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What Is Pragmatic Religious Naturalism, and What Does It Have to Do with Du Bois?

What Is Pragmatic Religious Naturalism, and What Does It Have to Do with Du Bois?

(p.21) 1 What Is Pragmatic Religious Naturalism, and What Does It Have to Do with Du Bois?
Divine Discontent

Jonathon S. Kahn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter defines pragmatism and pragmatic religious naturalism through a reading of pragmatists William James, John Dewey, and George Santayana. It shows how Du Bois constructs crucial notions of black identity, double consciousness, and black peoplehood with anti-essentialist pragmatist tools such as James's radical empiricism. It goes on to show how Du Bois's religious voice is fully inhabited by four key characteristics of pragmatic religious naturalisms: 1) skepticism of supernatural revelation; 2) conceiving of religion's powers as coming from finite human trusts; 3) finding religion's genius in its pairing of the real with the ideal; and finally 4) a meliorism in which hopefulness only emerges from a frank confrontation with real struggle and loss.

Keywords:   anti-essentialism, John Dewey, double consciousness, empiricism, finitude, identity, William James, meliorism, George Santayana

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