Philosophy and the City

Classic to Contemporary Writings

Edited by Sharon M. Meagher

Subjects: Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Urban Studies, Urban And Regional Planning
Paperback : 9780791473085, 330 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791473078, 330 pages, January 2008

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Table of contents


Part I: Readings from Philosophy: Classic to Contemporary

Classic and Medieval Readings (500 BCE-AD 1499)
      • Thucydides, Pericles' funeral oration
      • Plato, Crito and The Republic
      • Aristotle, Politics
      • Augustine, City of God

Modern Readings (1500-1899)
      • Niccoló Machiavelli, The Prince and Discourses
      • St. Thomas More, Utopia
      • Thomas Hobbes, De Cive
      • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Letter to M. D'Alembert on the Theater
      • Thomas Jefferson, "Manufactures"
      • Jane Addams, "The Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements"

Late Modern Readings (1900-1969)
      • Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life"
      • Max Weber, "Concepts and Categories of the City"
      • John Dewey, "Philosophy and Civilization"
      • Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project
      • Martin Heidegger, "Building Dwelling Thinking"
      • Lewis Mumford, "Retrospect and Prospect"

Contemporary Readings (1970-present)
      • Henri Lefebvre, "Philosophy of the City and Planning Ideology"
      • William J. Gavin, "The Urban and the Aesthetic"
      • Jürgen Habermas, "The Public Sphere"
      • Michel Foucault, "Panopticism"
      • Christian Norberg-Schulz, "The Loss and Recovery of Place"
      • Iris Marion Young, "City Life as a Normative Ideal"
      • bell hooks, "Homeplace: A Site of Resistance"
      • Elizabeth A. Grosz, "Body Politic and Political Bodies"
      • Cornel West, "Race Matters"
      • Joseph Grange, "The Philosopher as Master of Heartfelt Contrast"
      • James Conlon, "Cities and the Place of Philosophy"
      • Susan Bickford, "Constructing Inequality: City Spaces and the Architecture of Citizenship"
      • Eduardo Mendieta, "A Phenomenology of the Global City"
      • Gail Weiss, "Urban Flesh: The Fragility of Dwelling"

Part II: Philosophy Matters, City Matters: Cases for Discussion

Section A. What Is a City?
      • Philosophy Matters: Friedrich Engels, "The Failure of the City for 19th Century British Working Class"
      • City Matters: Robert Ginsberg, "Aesthetics in Hiroshima: The Architecture of Remembrance"

Section B. Citizenship
      • Philosophy Matters: Robert Gooding-Williams, "Citizenship and Racial Ideology"
      • City Matters: Daniel Kemmis, "Taxpayers vs. Citizens"

Section C. Urban Identity and Diversity
      • Philosophy Matters: Lee Francis, "We, the People: Young American Indians Reclaiming Their Identity"
      • City Matters: Geraldine Pratt, "Domestic Workers, Gentrification and Diversity in Vancouver"
Section D. The Built Environment (Planning and Architecture)
      • Philosophy Matters: Robert Mugerauer, "Design on Behalf of Place"
      • City Matters: HRH The Prince of Wales, "Tall Buildings"

Section E. Social Justice and the Ethics of the City
      • Philosophy Matters: Andrew Light, "Elegy for a Garden"
      • City Matters: Friedrich Hayek, "Housing and Town Planning"

About the Authors

The definitive source book on philosophy and the city.


Using philosophical works from ancient Greece to contemporary times, Philosophy and the City demonstrates both why philosophy matters to the city and how cities matter to philosophy. The collection addresses questions that remain central to urban planning and everyday urban life, such as, What is a city? What does it mean to be a good citizen? By bringing various perspectives together, Sharon M. Meagher provides readers the opportunity to better understand key philosophical debates concerning not only social and political philosophy but also place and identity formation, aesthetics, philosophy of race and diversity, and environmental philosophy.

Sharon M. Meagher is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Women's Studies at the University of Scranton. She is the coeditor (with Patrice DiQuinzio) of Women and Children First: Feminism, Rhetoric, and Public Policy, also published by SUNY Press.


"One major achievement of Meagher's anthology Philosophy and the City is, then, simply to reassert the case that while 'the social sciences have contributed much to the analysis of urban problems, philosophy can and should take a more explicit role again. '" — CITY: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action

"…it certainly does deliver an interesting collection of extracts that read well and solidly. " — Urban Studies Journal

"In this book, Meagher takes the reader through the history of the relationship between philosophy and the city. It provides food for thought for those practitioners, academics or students who would like to view urban issues from a different perspective. " — European Urban Knowledge Network

"Meagher offers suggestions on how to use her book in courses on philosophy and the city, and her book promises to be a useful tool in such courses. " — Library Journal

"Cities matter. Philosophy matters. In this groundbreaking anthology, Sharon Meagher brings together for the first time a rich collection of readings on the nature and importance of urban life. In so doing, she provides a unique opportunity for students new to philosophy to discover the nature and importance of philosophical reflection as they engage in inquiry about a topic that is central to their lives. At the same time, Meagher offers a valuable resource for seasoned philosophers and for anyone who cares passionately about our cities and about those who live in them. " — Sean P. O'Connell, author of Outspeak: Narrating Identities That Matter

"Meagher's perceptive anthology asserts the power and value of reconnecting philosophy and urban issues, a timely association as people worldwide grapple with how, and why, to address civic engagement. " — Diane Favro, author of The Urban Image of Augustan Rome

"Sharon Meagher's collection provides us with a much-needed compendium of the scattered sources that consider the city from a broad philosophical vantage point. Cities are not just collections of buildings and people; they are also value-laden manifestations of social relations. This book offers a spectrum of insights that assist us in understanding these complex relationships. " — Susan S. Fainstein, coeditor of Cities and Visitors: Regulating People, Markets, and City Space