Cornel West Quotes

Image, When you say that [Martin Luther] King was a prophet, you don’t

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When you say that [Martin Luther] King was a prophet, you don't say that he predicted anything; you say that he bore witness. He left a committed life so that people would never forget the suffering of people that he was connected to. King was prophetic because he lived a committed life. Now he did critique society, saying you're going to go under if you don't treat your poor right. I mean, that is part of prophetic calling, but it's not predicting anything.

Cornel West

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Image, The authority of science … promotes and encourages the activity of observing, comparing,

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The authority of science ... promotes and encourages the activity of observing, comparing, measuring and ordering the physical characteristics of human bodies.... Cartesian epistemology and classical ideals produced forms of rationality, scientificity and objectivity that, though efficacious in the quest for truth and knowledge, prohibited the intelligibility and legitimacy of black equality.... In fact, to "think" such an idea was to be deemed irrational, barbaric or mad.

Cornel West

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Image, I was deeply influenced by the sartorial practices of both preachers and

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I was deeply influenced by the sartorial practices of both preachers and jazz musicians and actually Masha in Act One of Anton Chekhov, my favorite writer's master piece,Three Sisters,when she arrives reflecting on whether they're ever going to get to Moscow, memories of the death of their father, and she's in black, and she says I'm in mourning for the world, saying in part that I have a sad soul and a cheerful disposition.

Cornel West

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Image, Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the

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Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there's enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better, much more rational, deeply secular, whereas hope looks at the evidence and says, "It doesn't look good at all. Doesn't look good at all. Gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever." That's hope. I'm a prisoner of hope, though. Gonna die a prisoner of hope.

Cornel West

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Image, If you’ve got on the one hand death, dogmatism, domination, and on

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If you've got on the one hand death, dogmatism, domination, and on the other you've got desire in the face of death, dialogue in the face of dogmatism, democracy in the face of domination, then philosophy itself becomes a critical disposition of wrestling with desire in the face of death, wrestling with dialogue in the face of dogmatism, and wrestling with democracy, trying to keep alive a very fragile democratic experiment.

Cornel West

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Image, And so the question becomes, what you do in the meantime? And

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And so the question becomes, what you do in the meantime? And you go - if you're forever on the move, especially in the life of the mind; forever reading veraciously, writing, speaking, lecturing, trying to unsettle minds, trying to touch souls, trying to encourage and inspire, on the one hand, but also trying to unhouse and unnerve people, so that they have to reexamine themselves, society and the world on the others. There's tremendous joy in it.

Cornel West

Image, As a Christian, I got something the world didn’t give me, the

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As a Christian, I got something the world didn't give me, the world can't take away, so I find joy that can never be reduced to anything. So I come into classroom on fire. I'm on fire for learning. I'm on fire for education, a paideia in the deepest sense of paideia, trying to get young people to shift from the superficial to the substantial, the shift from the bling-bling to letting freedom reign in their minds and hearts and souls.

Cornel West

Image, The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life

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The country is in deep trouble. We've forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that's the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.

Cornel West

Image, For me, music is in no way ornamental or decorative, it’s constitutive

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For me, music is in no way ornamental or decorative, it's constitutive of who I am. And that's why, when I say I'm a blues man, that's a very serious vocation - to muster the courage to find your own unique voice, to forge your distinctive style in the world, to leave your imprint in the sands of time in such a way that your singularity, your individuality, remains something that people have to come to terms with.

Cornel West