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The Place of Prejudice

The Place of Prejudice

A Case for Reasoning within the World

Adam Adatto Sandel

ISBN 9780674726840

Publication date: 06/17/2014

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Today we associate prejudice with ignorance and bigotry and consider it a source of injustice. So how can prejudice have a legitimate place in moral and political judgment? In this ambitious work, Adam Sandel shows that prejudice, properly understood, is not an unfortunate obstacle to clear thinking but an essential aspect of it. The aspiration to reason without preconceptions, he argues, is misguided.

Ranging across philosophy from Aristotle to Heidegger and Gadamer, Sandel demonstrates that we inherit our "prejudice against prejudice" from the Enlightenment. By detaching reason from habit and common opinion, thinkers such as Bacon, Descartes, and Kant invented prejudice--as we understand it today--as an obstacle to freedom and a failure to think for oneself.

The Place of Prejudice presents a powerful challenge to this picture. The attempt to purge understanding of culture and history leads not to truth, Sandel warns, but to shallowness and confusion. A purely detached notion of reason deprives judgment of all perspective, disparages political rhetoric as mere pandering, and denies us the background knowledge we need to interpret literature, law, and the past. In a clear, eloquent voice, Sandel presents instead a compelling case for reasoning within the world.


  • A remarkable, deeply humanizing book… [Sandel] points out that those who claim to have rid themselves of prejudice are, without exception, kidding themselves, even setting themselves up to be more susceptible to prejudice by creating a fictitious realm in which they are immune to it… Today researchers are assembling an ever-longer list of what they consider cognitive biases, which are apparently the product of a jumble of cognitive mechanisms that evolution has snatched up and crammed uncomfortably together. A new philosophical effort is needed to account for the findings of this science, and to challenge its shortcomings. Efforts like the one undertaken in The Place of Prejudice will be vital to this task.

    —Ari N. Schulman, New Atlantis


  • Adam Adatto Sandel is a philosopher, Guinness World Record holder for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute, and an award-winning teacher. Author of the critically acclaimed book The Place of Prejudice: A Case for Reasoning within the World, Sandel has taught at Harvard University and is currently an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • 1 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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