W.E.B. Du Bois on Race and the Limits of Chance

Dr. Jack Knight
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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
Stream: Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: W.E.B. Du Bois on Race and the Limits of Chance

Dr. Jack Knight

Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Southwest Missouri State University

Since obtaining my Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1975 I have held a teaching position at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri. I have received two University Teaching Awards and am presently under contract to write an intellectual biography of W.E.B. Du Bois, the foremost African American thinker of the early Twentieth Century.

Ref: H05P0461