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Overcoming America / America Overcoming: Can We Survive Modernity?

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0739171400
ISBN-10: 0739171402
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Editorial Reviews


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: Explorations in Comparative Philosophy)

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (November 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739171402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739171400
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,657,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joan Gibb Engel on December 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Overcoming America / America Overcoming comes just as we have almost given up hope. It is most welcome. What we have here is no facile prescription for what ails us. It is instead the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime of teaching, reading, and living. Rowe, author, philosopher, ethicist, is above all teacher in the fullest meaning of that word and he has the skill and understanding to help us overcome our narcissistic despair. Rather than the way, Rowe examines ways of being in the world that are relational and freeing and could lead to a vital future, not just for America, but for its neighbors and the planet. This book could be read as a series of meditations, guides to right living, a new "Almanac for Moderns." Sincere dialogue, active choice, commitment to creative, responsible growth, "faithfulness to the gift quality of life"--these are elements of a worldview that have the possibility of overcoming America's imploding selfishness.

The author steers a course that is respectful of tradition but not bound to its mistakes, one that gently guides us in seeing our country as others see us. Though not easy, the book seldom becomes more than the reader can follow. Rowe anticipates our questions and weaves pathways of hope through and around them, in the process reviving values that have never died. His sincerity and depth of knowledge combined with his lack of self-aggrandizement lend an authority to this book that I found convincing. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to become educated to real purpose and hope for the revitalization of America and the flourishing of the planet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By a. on December 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although the subtitle of Overcoming America / America Overcoming asks CAN we -- "we," that is, Americans -- survive modernity, this book doesn't stop at merely asking whether we CAN. In fact, it focused throughout on HOW to survive what the author, Stephen Rowe, calls "modernity." The "modernity" discussed in this book is really the set of less-desirable aspects of modernity, not modernity in all its aspects. Rowe is not, in other words, calling for a return to some ignorant and oppressive "traditional" way of life. While embracing the best of the modern, he suggests that an aspect of traditional wisdom -- the intentional and life-long cultivation of one's full human potential -- has too often failed to receive its proper emphasis within modern society. The rediscovery and re-appropriation of this practice should remedy precisely what America, despite all its other great qualities, has regrettably come to lack. While advancing this argument, Rowe offers deep and detailed guidance about how each of us, and about how all of us together, might rediscover and integrate this forgotten practice in our own lives, today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JL on January 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overcoming America / America Overcoming is kind of book, once you start reading, you don't want to put down. " We live in the midst of fragments of tradition, as well as desperate attempts to get back, to absolutize the order and authority of tradition against the insufficiency of the modern." The author not only pin point issues we are facing, but also lay out developmental work on new worldview to "entails fresh reappropriation of traditional resources."

Coincidently, his new worldview may have promptly echoed scientific world. The string theory in physics finds the elegant formula for our universe, but can't explain its plural answers. Rowe's worldview may have answered philosophically that "there might be more than one right answer to life's most important questions."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So relevant and timely! The book resonates me as well as awakens me in the era of great dysfunction, destruction, and uncertainty. While there might be an overtaken sense of “all is lost,” this book gives me hope and strength.
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