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John J. StuhrArts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and American Studies


  • BA, Carleton College
  • MA, Vanderbilt University
  • PhD, Vanderbilt University

Current Work

My main research and ongoing publications now are in three areas:

Pragmatism:  My No Professor’s Lectures Can Save Us:  William James’s Pragmatism, Radical Empiricism, and Pluralism has just been published by Oxford University Press.  This book draws on the thought of James (in conversation with many other thinkers including Bergson, Deleuze, Dewey, Santayana, and Hegel) in order to address issues in ethics and politics, philosophical psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology.  I am now nearing completion of two related books that will make a kind of pragmatic triptych:  a book—tentatively titled Peirce’s Principle of Pragmatism--that moves through the pragmatism, phenomenology, and semiotics of Charles Peirce; and, a book—tentatively titled Experience and Criticism--that focuses on John Dewey, his view of experience, and its implications for politics and the practice of philosophy.  In addition, I am writing about a half dozen book chapters, articles, and extended encyclopedia entries on pragmatism.  I continue to find the pragmatic tradition a uniquely valuable resource for addressing contemporary ethical, political, and contemporary cultural issues that include the rise of authoritarianism, flights from evidence and truth, marketed categories of identity, and societal polarization.  Finally, I am also completing American Philosophy:  A Very Short Introduction for the Oxford University Press VSI series. 

Ethics and Politics:  I also have just completed editing a volume on the nature of happiness and well-being:  Philosophy and Human Flourishing (Oxford University Press, 2022).  This book is the first in a series of books on the humanities and human flourishing, all of which are results of a multi-year Templeton Foundation grant to the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  I continue to be interested in the intersections of philosophy and both positive psychology and behavioral economics—an interest that I take to stem from my conception of philosophy as an art (of living) rather than a discipline (of knowledge catalogued in the contemporary academy).  Looking ahead, my aim is to extend my understanding of human flourishing to the cultural and natural conditions on which I believe it depends.  Key issues here include those of merit and meritocracy, equality and equal opportunity, economic differences and issues of hope and resentment, and both environmental justice and sustainability.  These topics raise issues about the nature of philosophy itself, and, in that context, I have edited a book titled Poetic Pragmatism:  Shared Practice and Singular Voices that addresses, the nature of philosophy, its relations to poetry and jazz, and the nature of improvisation and force of traditions.

19th and 20th Century European Philosophy:  I continue to be interested particularly in the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, and am at work on a book focused on Deleuze, his view of philosophy as the creation of concepts, and, above all, his radical empiricism, and its connections (mostly through Bergson and Deleuze’s teacher, Jean Wahl) to American pragmatism.  I presented some of this work in the past year via a graduate course of study administered by Università degli Studi di Milano.  I am also interested in relations between the philosophies and methodological commitments of Dewey (especially Experience and Nature) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (especially the Phenomenology of Perception).    

I regularly have taught both undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in the above three areas, and expect to continue to do so in the future.  My most recent graduate seminars include courses on both topics and problems—cosmopolitanism, liberalism and its critics, human flourishing, and equality, meritocracy, and democracy—and courses on philosophical traditions and individual figures—contemporary pragmatism, Peirce and James and the Origins of Pragmatism, Dewey and democracy, radical empiricism, Deleuze, and stoicism.


  • social theory and political philosophy
  • ethics, pragmatism and American philosophy
  • 19th and 20th century European philosophy
  • philosophy and contemporary culture

Fellowships and Honors

  • Founding Director, American Philosophies Forum (2008--)
  • The American Philosophies Forum - Emory University
    Mission Recognizing the pluralistic, frequently contested character of American life, the American Philosophies Forum aims: 1) to contribute to the critical ...
  • Co-Editor and Managing Editor, Journal of Speculative Philosophy (1998--) Click here.
  • Founding Series General Editor, American Philosophy, Indiana University Press (2003)
  • Templeton Foundation Grant on “The Humanities and Human Flourishing;” Disciplinary Chair for Philosophy and Project Senior Board member (administered by the University of Pennsylvania) (2017-2023).
  • Ethics & Contemporary Moral Problems Initiative, Emory Integrity Project, Emory University (2017-2018)
  • The American Dream, Quality Enhancement Plan Grant, Emory University (2017-2018)
  • Visiting Scholar, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University (2016-17, 2011, 2006)
  • Marcus Foundation Large Institutional Grant (2008, 2014)
  • Co-Director, Summer Workshop (on Peirce, James, and the Origins of Pragmatism), Institute for the History of Philosophy, 2012
  • President, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (2004-06)
  • Outstanding Faculty Member, Lotus Eaters Honor Society/Pi Beta Phi, Vanderbilt University (2007)
  • Director, "Contested Values and Moral Reasoning in International Affairs," Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (2004)
  • Co-Director, NEH Summer Seminar on Art, Politics, and American Culture and Pragmatism, National Endowment for the Humanities (2001)
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Centre Michel Foucault (IMES), Paris, France (1994)
  • Director, Western Humanities Conference (1990-93)
  • Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Lenningrad State University (1991)
  • Founding Steering Committee, Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (1988-1994)
  • Senior Research Scholar and Visiting Fellow, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia (1988)
  • Fulbright Fellow, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg, Germany (1984)
  • Greenlee Prize, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (1981)
  • President, Northwest Philosophy Conference (1981)

Selected Publications

  • Author of
    • No Professor’s Lectures Can Save Us: William James’s Pragmatism, Radical Empiricism, and Pluralism (Oxford University Press, 2022)
    • Pragmatic Fashions: Pluralism, Democracy, Relativism, and the Absurd (Indiana University Press, 2016)
    • Pragmatism, Postmodernism, and the Future of Philosophy (Routledge, 2003)
    • Genealogical Pragmatism: Philosophy, Experience, and Community (SUNY Press, 1997)
    • John Dewey (Carmichael & Carmichael, 1991; study guide, 1993; Blackstone, cd, 2006)
  • Editor of
    • Philosophy and Human Flourishing (Oxford University Press, 2022)
    • Cosmopolitanism and Place (co-edited with Jessica Wahman and José M. Medina) (Indiana University Press, 2017)
    • 100 Years of Pragmatism: William James's 'Epoch-Making' Philosophy (Indiana, 2010)
    • Pragmatism and Classical American Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2000)
    • Philosophy and the Reconstruction of Culture (SUNY Press, 1993)
    • The Journal of Speculative Philosophy: A Quarterly Journal of History, Criticism, and Imagination