Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Auxier, Randall


This work provides an overview of Cornel West's moral thought. I begin by analyzing West's characterization of a promising viewpoint in moral inquiry that he believed Karl Marx adhered to--radical historicism. This viewpoint, which West presents in an early work of his, The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought, leads one to discard the traditional philosophical pursuit of certainty in ethics in favor of a historically situated attempt to enact meliorative social change. After outlining the details of this viewpoint and West's characterization of Marx's relationship to it, I examine some of West's subsequent work in light of radical historicism. In this section, I indicate that West still maintains the efficacy of ideals in the moral realm despite his abandonment of the traditional philosophical pursuit of apodictic foundations. For West, these ideals mainly stem from three main traditions: the tragicomic, the deep democratic, and the prophetic Christian.




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