Dick Howard is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Stony Brook University. His most recent books are The Primacy of the Political: A History of Political Thought from the Greeks to the French and American Revolutions (Columbia University Press 2010) and Aux origines de la pensée politique américaine (Hachette Pluriel 2008). He does a weekly commentary on US politics for Radio Canada and a monthly column on New York cultural life for Esprit. His political commentaries can be found on this website.
En route to his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Dick Howard studied in Paris (with Paul Ricoeur) and Bonn (with Klaus Hartmann). He later worked with Claude Lefort, Cornelius Castoriadis and Jürgen Habermas. A participant in the civil rights and anti-war movements in the US, he was a student at Nanterre in 1968, and traveled thereafter throughout West and East Europe, becoming an early “anti-totalitarian leftist.”
He has written frequently on current events, sociological trends, and philosophical themes—as can be seen in his Curriculum Vita. Articles, essays, public lectures and radio/tv appearances try to bring together these three dimensions of political thought.
He has written books in English and in French, on philosophical, historical and political themes. His more political articles and commentaries in recent years have been in French, perhaps because he has become a “token” francophone (although most of the French commentaries have been translated into German, a language that he reads and speaks but whose grammar he respects too much to abuse it).
His most recent book is The Primacy of the Political. A History of Political Thought from the Greeks to the French and American Revolutions (Columbia University Press, 2010). In its Introduction, and in several recent articles, he tries to explain why he—a product of the New Left and the Anti-totalitarian Left—returned to the history of political thought in order to better understand the challenges of today.
That work finally completed, he retired from teaching and has been writing a “Chronique transatlantique” of American culture for the journal Esprit, as well as doing a weekly commentary for Radio Canada (Montéal) on American politics.
A new project on American political culture is beginning to take form. He has also begun working on a new edition of his earlier book From Marx to Kant..
Photographs by M. Rougemont.