"To have lived in bad faith is to have evaded recognition of oneself as a human being. It is to have lived a fugitive existence….To die in bad faith, then, is tantamount to having never lived."

Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism, p. 183. (Quote selected by Danielle Davis, Queensland University of Technology)

Lewis R. Gordon is an Afro-Jewish philosopher, political thinker, educator, and musician (drums, other percussive instruments, and piano), who was born on the island of Jamaica and grew up in the Bronx, New York, where he attended Evander Child’s High School, played jazz in NY night clubs, and went to Lehman College under the Lehman Scholars Program (LSP) where he graduated with honors in philosophy and political science as a member of the
Chi chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. His undergraduate mentor and lifetime friend, Gary Schwartz, with whom he also studied Greek and ancient literature, was Director of the LSP. Gordon then taught social studies at Lehman High School, where he founded The Second Chance Program for In-school Truants and then studied for his doctorate at Yale University, where he met his graduate mentor, the great Maurice Natanson, a phenomenologist and existentialist who was also a child of Yiddish theater in Brooklyn, New York, and whose mentor was Alfred Schütz, the great Austrian Jewish phenomenologist of the social sciences. His doctoral committee also included the late John E. Smith and M. Shawn Copeland (who now teaches at Boston College).

Gordon’s research in philosophy is in Africana philosophy, philosophy of existence, phenomenology, social and political philosophy, philosophy of culture, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of science. His philosophy and social theory have been the subjects of many studies in a variety of disciplines. Though he has written on problems of method and disciplinary formation in the human sciences, Gordon has more recently devoted attention to problems in philosophy of physics, especially through a series of ongoing discussions and research projects on cosmology and what he calls multidimensional theory with Stephon Alexander, who teaches physics at Brown University. In addition to theories of social transformation, decolonization, and liberation, Gordon’s research in social and political philosophy also addresses problems of normative political concerns beyond justice.

As a public intellectual, Gordon has written for a variety of political forums, newspapers, and magazines such as truthout (on which he now serves as a member of the Board of Directors), the Pambazuka News, the Johannesburg Salon, and The Mail & Guardian, and has lectured across the globe, founded and co-founded several book series, journals and organizations, including, with Paget Henry, the past Routledge series Africana Thought and, with Jane Anna Gordon and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, the London-based Rowman & Littlefield International series Global Critical Caribbean Thought, the journal Radical Philosophy Review, and the Caribbean Philosophical Association, of which he was the first president (2003 to 2008) and for which he now serves as the chairperson of the awards committee. He also participates in several international research groups. He is a professor of philosophy with affiliations in Judaic studies, Caribbean and Latina/o studies, and Asian and Asian American studies at UCONN-Storrs, and his visiting appointments include the European Union Visiting Chair in Philosophy at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France (since 2013), Honorary Professor in (UHURU) the Unit for the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes in South Africa, where he was formerly the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Visiting Chair in Political and International (2014, 2015), Visiting Professor in Philosophy and Government at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica (since 1998), and Writer-in-Residence at the Birkbeck School of Law at the University of London (2016).

Gordon is married to the political theorist, Jane Anna Gordon, with whom he has collaborated on a variety of intellectual projects, which includes the book Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Routledge, 2009) and A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell’s, 2006). He continues to perform music: jazz with Matthew K. Holmes in the Hartford area, Blues without Borders (a combo of colleagues at UCONN), and, with his son Elijah Gordon and student Greg Doukas, ThreeGenerations (an alternative rock band). Their first EP, Now!, is available on music sites world wide. His curriculum vitae can be downloaded here, his Wikipedia entry can be found here, and his posts on Twitter here. A shorter version of his CV is also available here.


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© Lewis R. Gordon