This is the second of three volumes of posthumously collected writings of G. A. Cohen, who was one of the leading, and most progressive, figures in contemporary political philosophy. This volume brings together some of Cohen’s most personal philosophical and nonphilosophical essays, many of them previously unpublished. Rich in first-person narration, insight, and humor, these pieces vividly demonstrate why Thomas Nagel described Cohen as a “wonderful raconteur.?
The nonphilosophical highlight of the book is Cohen’s remarkable account of his first trip to India, which includes unforgettable vignettes of encounters with strangers and reflections on poverty and begging. Other biographical pieces include his valedictory lecture at Oxford, in which he describes his philosophical development and offers his impressions of other philosophers, and “Isaiah’s Marx, and Mine,” a tribute to his mentor Isaiah Berlin. Other essays address such topics as the truth in “small-c conservatism,” who can and can’t condemn terrorists, and the essence of bullshit. A recurring theme is finding completion in relation to the world of other human beings. Engaging, perceptive, and empathetic, these writings reveal a more personal side of one of the most influential philosophers of our time.
"Finding Oneself in the Other works primarily as a memorial to Gerald Allan Cohen, the man, and not his ideas. Both deserve to be remembered. And so the second volume in this trilogy is worth reading, albeit for different reasons than the first."—Peter Stone, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
"The essays are a joy to read—they are fun, engaging and insightful—and they provide a fascinating perspective on Cohen's philosophical development, on the intellectual context in which he was active, and on the way in which he viewed and experienced the world. Accordingly, they will be of interest not just to those working in moral and political philosophy but to a much broader audience."—Ralf Bader, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Cohen renders the subject of linguistic morality accessible through a refreshing admixture of humor and diligent explication. . . . Finding Oneself is at once edifying and sincere."—Ross Mittiga, Political Studies Review
"Engaging, perceptive, and empathetic, these writings reveal a more personal side of one of the most influential philosophers of our time."—World Book Industry
"Finding Oneself in the Other is ideal for philosophers and non-philosophers alike. . . . [It] is a valuable asset."—Eugene Baron, Ethical Perspectives
"For those who never had the good fortune to know Jerry Cohen, these essays supply unparalleled insight into his wider moral and political commitments and cultural sensibilities. And for those of us who did have that good fortune, this volume provides cherished reminders of the singular value of his friendship, of the profound contribution that he made to our understanding of what matters, and of just how damn funny he so often was. The debt owed to Michael Otsuka for his editorial labors continues to grow."—Hillel Steiner, professor emeritus, University of Manchester
"As well as being an amazingly gifted political philosopher, Jerry Cohen had an extraordinary sense of humor and humanity. This wide-ranging volume combines brilliant philosophical analysis with memorable personal reflection on a host of subjects, including poverty in India, Israel today, and even the origins of French bullshit. Finding Oneself in the Other casts unprecedented light on why Cohen was not just widely admired but loved."—Andrew Williams, ICREA and Universitat Pompeu Fabra
"This is an unusually personal collection of philosophical essays, full of perceptive observation and sharp reasoning intermingled with irresistible humor and contagious tenderness. Anyone reading these pages will understand why both Jerry Cohen's philosophy and his radiant personality have meant and will keep meaning so much to so many people."—Philippe Van Parijs, Université de Louvain and Nuffield College, University of Oxford
"These often informal reminisces and reflections display Cohen's fine analytical skill applied to matters of everyday life. The depictions of some famous philosophers and philosophical types had me laughing to the point of tears. Never have philosophy and humor been so wonderfully united. The collection also includes topics of utmost seriousness, treated with Cohen's trademark clarity and novelty."—John Roemer, Yale University
"These essays show the existential urgency that was central to Jerry Cohen's aura, generating instant friendships with total strangers and giving his writing a lifelong intensity."—Marshall Berman, City College of New York