Michael Lackey – Science, Postmodernism, and the Varieties of Black Humanism

October 3, 2008


Michael Lackey teaches courses in twentieth-century American and African American literature at the University of Minnesota, Morris. A recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, he has published articles in many journals, including Philosophy and Literature, Journal of the History of Ideas, and the Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History. University Press of Florida has recently published his book, African American Atheists and Political Liberation: A Study of the Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Faith, which was named a “Choice Outstanding Academic Title” for 2007. He is currently working on his second book, which is tentatively titled: Modernist God States: A Literary Study of the Theological Origins of Totalitarianism.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Michael Lackey talks about black liberation atheism, and the view among certain black intellectuals that belief in God results in racial inequality. He explores the black intellectual critique of the Enlightenment and of humanism, and how this has played out in post-modernist skepticism of humanism, science and reason in the academy. Focusing on Richard Wright, he explains the view that the real value of science is how it is democratic, not necessarily that it leads to “the truth”. And he talks about the correspondence theory of truth and why he rejects it.