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The Participating Citizen: A Biography of Alfred Schutz (Suny Series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences) Hardcover – August 6, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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"Michael D. Barber impressively situates Schutz's philosophical ideas and commitments within the context of Schutz's own life, providing an immense amount of historical detail and insight into the broader intellectual and social history of the early half of the last century."

About the Author

Michael D. Barber is Professor of Philosophy at St. Louis University and the author of several books, including Equality and Diversity: Phenomenological Investigations of Prejudice and Discrimination.

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Product Details

  • Series: Suny Series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (August 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791461416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791461419
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,998,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Michael Barber's book immediately replaces Helmut Wagner's earlier work as the definitive biography of Alfred Schutz. Although the book is short, a quick glance at the copious endnotes (44 pages of references for 229 pages of body text) indicates the thoroughness -- indeed, exhaustiveness -- of Barber's archival work and wider research. His prose is clear, approachable, and workmanlike. At times this does lead to a certain sense of distance -- Schutz's personality remains naggingly intangible throughout the book despite Barber's attempts, mostly because of his reserved and unadventerous style. But then this volume is a study of Schutz's life and philosophy, not a memoire or a literary biography, and the book's concision and clarity are welcome in this regard. Phenomeneology has not produced very many light reads, and Barber ably guides the reader through extremely technical discussions of Schutz's work and phenomenology more generally, describing and summarizing vast amounts of work which would scare the bejezus out of many readers if they attempted them on their own. For scholars familiar with Schutz's work and the history of German emigree intellecuals, this is a very welcome addition to the literature. Newbies looking for a quick overview of Schutz's thought might want to chech out other sources -- for instance, Wagner's edited volume "Alfred Schutz on Phenomenology and Social Relations" in Chicago's 'Heritage of Sociology' series.
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Format: Hardcover
The Vienna-born philosopher and social scientist, Alfred Schutz (1899-1959), is credited with applying to the social sciences the new methods of phenomenology, the philosophical movement initiated by Edmund Husserl in the early twentieth-century. Ironically, the only biography of Schutz available until now, Helmut Wagner's ALFRED SCHUTZ: AN INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY (1983), overlooks many details of the fascinating social world of this quintessential philosopher of the social world. Barber's biography remedies this. Drawing on vast amounts of previously unpublished materials, it draws the reader directly into his life and times-his childhood; studies under Hans Kelsen, Ludwig von Mises and Husserl; first visit to the United States; efforts to secure asylum for his Jewish family and friends after the Austrian Anschluss; family and business life; connections with phenomenologists worldwide; the New School for Social Research; close friends and associates-especially Felix Kaufmann, Eric Voegelin, Aaron Gurwitsch, and Marvin Faber. Barber's biography also examines the ethical dimensions of Schutz's philosophical work, including its well-known resistance to ethical theory, and shows how during the civil rights movement he developed a standard for evaluating democracy in terms of its ability to facilitate individual citizen participation. A delightful and highly informative read.
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