Book by Penn State professor offers philosophical reflection of Obama presidency

January 29, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Barack Obama’s tenure as America’s 44th president comes to a close, philosophical questions on his rise to prominence and his presidency come to light. Did Sen. Obama’s election as president usher in the “post-historical age” that many people thought it would? Has the United States become post-racial? Does Obama’s pragmatism show the way to a post-partisan approach to politics? And does the reining in of U.S. power and ambitions signal the emergence of a post-imperial moment?

These are questions raised in “On Obama” (Routledge, 2015), a book written by Paul C. Taylor, associate professor of philosophy and African-American studies and associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts.

The aim of the book is not to answer these questions directly; instead, the purpose is to consider how President Obama’s public image and career raise these questions and explore some lines of thought that emerge in light of the questions. The book seeks to explore ideas of what Obama and his presidency symbolize that other historical and political theory books often presuppose.

Taylor earned his bachelor of arts in philosophy degree with honors from Morehouse College, his master of arts and doctorate degrees in philosophy from Rutgers University, and a master of public administration degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Previous honors include the Edmond J. Safra Network Fellowship at Harvard University and the Bernard L. Schwartz Fellowship at the New America Foundation.

Taylor’s teaching and research focuses on race theory, social and political philosophy, Africana philosophy, aesthetics, and pragmatism. He joined the Penn State faculty in 2010 and served as head of the Department of African-American Studies from 2011 until his appointment as associate dean in 2015. Taylor’s previous faculty appointments include Temple University, the University of Washington, and the University of Kentucky. He has also held visiting academic appointments at the Winthrop House, Harvard University; Rhodes University, South Africa; and SUNY College at Oneonta.

In addition to “On Obama,” Taylor has penned “The Philosophy of Race” (Routledge, 2012); “Race: A Philosophical Introduction” (Polity, 2013); and “Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics” (Blackwell, in press). He also provides commentary on race and politics to national and international media outlets.

Last Updated May 19, 2016