W.E.B. Du Bois on Race and the Limits of Chance
Trained in the experimental method under William James, W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) sought to reveal the true facts of African American progress at a time when opinion in the United States had turned against the Negro people. In defence of his race, Du Bois promoted sociological studies to uphold the viability of Afro-America and lay the basis for a civil rights agenda. Indeed, his scientific investigations introduced the empirical method to racial studies. Yet scholars have tended to overlook this stage of Du Bois' lifework, concentrating instead on his role as a protest leader and social democrat. This paper aims to reconnect Du Bois' sociological approach, in particular to uncover his purpose in defining Sociology as the study of chance. Emphasising storm and stress progress, he introduced a paradigm shift designed to prove to a doubting public that the emancipation of the American Negro was not a mistake of history.
Keywords: W.E.B. Du Bois, Philosophy of Race, Action Theory
Dr. Jack Knight
Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Southwest Missouri State University