Stephen Rowe is my favorite commentator on American culture, doing so with great nuance. In Overcoming America he has sought the deepest level of the malaise gripping our nation and found it in the dominant 'worldview.' The book arises from the richness of Rowe’s own dialogical life-experience, especially with American liberal education and the revival of traditional Chinese culture.
(John B. Cobb Jr., author of Spiritual Bankruptcy: A Prophetic Call to Action)Stephen Rowe launches a powerful argument for the need to aufheben ('negate-and-uplift') the modern and to construct a relational America. Engaging and refreshing. An excellent example of how comparative philosophy is relevant to the real world.
(Chenyang Li, author of The Tao Encounters the West)In this intriguing new book, Stephen Rowe exemplifies the key democratic, educational, moral arts he invites us to understand, to value, to practice. Honestly, caringly, respectfully he invites us to think with him as he lays out the complex weave of analysis, understanding, and hopeful prescriptions on which he has worked for many years. It is a rich conversation we enter, then, with a thinking friend who cares a great deal about our troubled, troubling world. It is also a call to action, but, crucially, Rowe believes that, if we do not also and always keep working on understanding rightly, and truly with equal others, our best-intentioned actions can perpetuate the very harms we want to remedy.
(Elizabeth Minnich, professor, Queens University (moral philosophy); author, “Transforming Knowledge”)This book should go far to establish Rowe as the contemporary American social critic who has inherited the mantle of Christopher Lasch. Rowe continues Lasch's trenchant observations of the sickness of our times, sounds the prophetic call to conversion for the sake of the true American promise, and carries the reader forward with strong, clear, well chosen words and convincing argument. The text reads as if it were spoken onto the page and the reader hears it as much as sees it. Rowe has created a style of writing most fitting for our 'post-traditional' era, and a message which, as he confesses in the book’s first sentence, is 'urgent, large, and a bit wild.' And also intimate, engaged, conversational, reflective, personal, anecdotal. Rowe brings his first-hand experience with inter-cultural dialogue, and in depth knowledge of Chinese culture, as well as his life-long devotion to liberal education as a way for citizens in a democracy to grow morally and spiritually together, to the contemporary public conversation he so celebrates and augments in this book.
(J. Ronald Engel, Meadville/Lombard Theological School)A wake-up call—and just in time! At the book's publication, the upper echelons of American society are wallowing to an alarming degree in the wasteland of unlimited greed, power-lust, pleasure-seeking, and corruption—all this in complete disregard of the deeper wellsprings that have animated America's original vision of 'liberty and justice for all.' This is a 'postmodern' book in the best sense: one that does not simply reject modernity but rather rescues modernity-gone-astray, thus paving the way to recovery. Stephen Rowe is an admirably lucid and courageous writer sounding this wake-up call—not by imposing moralistic formulas from above, but by encouraging a renewed cultivation of civic virtues through mutual openness and dialogical engagement.
(Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame)Recommended for the panoramic vision holding this very substantive work together, its faithfulness to the pragmatic vision of democracy, and its responsiveness to dialogue with non-Western traditions.
(Sor-hoon Tan, National University of Singapore, and author of Confucian Democracy: A Deweyan Reconstruction)Overcoming America represents a pioneering vision of the lineaments of the new map of eternal America as it struggles to stay America—with all the hope for the world which that entails—while the world changes within and around us.
(Jacob Needleman, author of What Is God? and The American Soul)
About the Author
Stephen Rowe is a professor at Grand Valley State University.