Cornel West Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Additional Reading

Allen, Norm R., Jr. “The Crisis of the Black Religious Intellectual.” Free Inquiry 14 (Summer, 1994): 9-10. Allen discusses Stephen L. Carter and West, two significant black intellectuals whose orientation is religious. Both believe that for society to survive and progress, faith in God is crucial. They assess modern culture and past history from religious perspectives. Allen contends that their doing so limits their intellectual depth. He especially faults them for their insistence that their religious texts are absolute, sacred texts that should be accepted unconditionally.

Anderson, Jervis. “The Public Intellectual.” The New Yorker 69 (January 17, 1994): 39-46. Anderson acknowledges West’s appeal to young people. He cautions that despite his popular acceptance, West is viewed by many of his professional colleagues as superficial in his writing and thinking and so broad in the generalizations he makes as to compromise many of his philosophical conclusions.

Appiah, K. Anthony. “A Prophetic Pragmatism.” The Nation 250 (April 9, 1990): 496-498. In this extensive review of The American Evasion of Philosophy, Appiah relates Rorty’s attempts to come to an improved understanding of American philosophy to Hegel’s attempts at the beginning of the eighteenth century to understand the past of philosophy in protonationalistic terms. He shows how West, whom he suggests may be the...

(The entire section is 644 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Cornel Ronald West, the son of civilian Air Force administrator Clifton L. West, Jr., and his wife, Irene Bias West, a schoolteacher, had, before his fortieth birthday, established himself firmly among the leading public intellectuals in the United States. Both in his writing and in public appearances that are marked by his riveting charisma, West provokes thought, reaction, and controversy.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, West was graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 1973. Princeton University awarded him the master’s degree in 1975 and the Ph.D. in 1980. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor of philosophy at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, with which he was affiliated from...

(The entire section is 793 words.)