The Ontology of Prejudice


This book offers a bold and controversial new thesis regarding the nature of prejudice. The authors' central claim is that prejudice is not simply learned, rather it is predisposed in all human beings and is thus the foundation for ethical valuation. They aim to destroy the illusion that prejudice is merely the result of learned beliefs, socially conditioned attitudes, or pathological states of development. Contrary to traditional accounts, prejudice itself is not a negative attribute of human nature, rather it is the necessary precondition for the self and civilization to emerge. Defined as the preferential self-expression of valuation, prejudice gives rise to greater existential complexities and novelties that elevate selfhood and society to higher states of ethical realization. Rather than offer another contribution that highlights the destructive nature of prejudice, Mills and Polanowski address the ontological, psychological, and dialectical origins of prejudice as it manifests itself in the process of selfhood and culture. They provide an original conceptualization of the phenomenology of prejudice and its dialectical instantiation in the ontology of the individual, worldhood, and the very structures of subjectivity. As a unique synthesis of psychoanalysis, Hegelian idealism, Heideggerian existential ontology, and Whiteheadian process philosophy, prejudice is the indispensable ground for humanity to actualize its highest potentiality-for-Being. The striking result is (1) a revolutionary theory of human nature, (2) a new ethical system, and (3) the elevation of dialectical ethics to the domain of metaphysics.

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”Whatever their moral, political, and metaphysical commitments, readers will profit from measuring their ideas against the standard, or challenge, set by this book. Enlightened or infuriated, they will enjoy the exhilaration that comes from the clash of ideas. They will also learn respect for the thoughtfulness and integrity of the authors.” – John Lachs, Vanderbilt University
George David MILLER: Foreword. John LACHS: Preface. Acknowledgments. Introduction. ONE The Ontology of Prejudice. 1. Prejudice Redefined. 2. The Universal A Priori Nature of Prejudice. 3. From Thought to Desire. 4. The Unconscious Organization of Prejudice. 5. Selfhood and Identification. 6. The Dialectic of Identity. 7. Is Racism Predisposed? TWO The Phenomenology of Prejudice. 1. Prejudice as Subjectivity. 2. The Illogic of Prejudice. 3. Prejudice in the Mode of Racial Identity. 4. Black Identity as Bad Faith. 5. White Identity as Bad Faith. 6. The Dialectical Dilemma of Racial Identity. THREE The Search for Authenticity. 1. Dasein und Fallenness. 2. Dasein in Bad Faith. 3. The False Self. 4. The Call of Conscience. FOUR Dialectical Ethics. 1. The Prejudicial Character of Ethics. 2. Reformulation of Hegel's Ethical Thought. 3. Hegel's Logic of the Dialectic. 4. Hegel's Dialectical Method. 5. The Operations of Thinking. 6. The Dialectic of Being. 7. The Essence of the Dialectic. 8. Conceptual Understanding. 9. Prejudice as Determinate Negativity. FIVE Ethics in Process. 1. Process Dialectics. 2. Relative Absolutism. 3. Functional Objectivity. 4. Absolute Relativism. 5. Ethical Subjectivism. 6. The Polarization of Ethical Valuation. 7. The Aufheben of Relativism and Absolutism. SIX The Metaphysics of Morals. 1. Metaphysics as Ethical Process. 2. Proces Reality. 3. Cosmological Freedom. 4. Before Good and Evil. 5. Toward the Sublime. Works Cited. About the Authors. Index.