Tom Rockmore

Tom Rockmore (born 1942) is an American philosopher. Although he denies the usual distinction between philosophy and the history of philosophy, he has strong interests throughout the history of philosophy and defends a constructivist view of epistemology. The philosophers whom he has studied extensively are Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Lukács, and Heidegger. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1974 and his Habilitation à diriger des recherches from the Université de Poitiers in 1994. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University, as well as Distinguished Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University.

Tom Rockmore
BornMarch 4, 1942
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Main interests
German idealism, Marxism, aesthetics
Notable ideas
Criticism of representationalism


Rockmore is a strong critic of representationalism in epistemology.[1] This is the view that the mind has access to external reality via copies of that reality that the mind receives from the object.[2] It assumes a metaphysical realism, in which there is an external reality independent of the knower. Instead, Rockmore argues for a constructivist view on the basis of which the mind, on the basis of its experience, forms concepts and ideas that become the basis of its knowledge. This shift has significant consequences for phenomenology, aesthetics, and political philosophy. It further questions the transcendental claims particularly of early phenomenology.

As a historian of philosophy, Rockmore shows how German idealism influenced the development of both continental and analytic philosophy. He claims that Marx, in particular, was influenced by the thought of Kant, Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel. However, he argues that Marx's thought was significantly misunderstood by Engels. Engels' subsequent influence leads to the development of versions of Marxism that were inconsistent with much in Marx’s original thinking.

Rockmore's political philosophy focuses on the effect of representational thinking on certain ideological strains that cause problematic political decisions in both Western and non Western states.

Rockmore has also published on aesthetics.

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • Fichte, Marx, and the German Philosophical Tradition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980. ISBN 9780809309559
  • Hegel's Circular Epistemology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. ISBN 9780253327130
  • Habermas on Historical Materialism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN 9780253327093
  • Irrationalism. Lukács and the Marxist View of Reason. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991. ISBN 9780877228677
  • On Heidegger's Nazism and Philosophy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. ISBN 9780520077119
  • Before and After Hegel: A Historical Introduction to Hegel's Thought. Hackett Publishing, 1993. ISBN 9780872206489
  • Heidegger and French Philosophy: Humanism, Antihumanism and Being. Routledge, 1995. ISBN 9780415111805
  • On Hegel's Epistemology and Contemporary Philosophy. Humanity Books, 1996. ISBN 9781573923514
  • Cognition: An Introduction to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. ISBN 9780520206618
  • Marx After Marxism: The Philosophy of Karl Marx. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2002. ISBN 9780631231899
  • On Foundationalism: A Strategy for Metaphysical Realism. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. ISBN 9780742534278
  • On Constructivist Epistemology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. ISBN 9780742543201
  • Hegel, Idealism and Analytic Philosophy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN 9780300104509
  • In Kant's Wake: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2006. ISBN 9781405125703
  • Kant and Idealism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN 9780300120080
  • Kant and Phenomenology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. ISBN 9780226723402
  • Before and After 9/11: A Philosophical Examination of Globalization, Terror, and History. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011. ISBN 9781441118929
  • Art and Truth after Plato. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. ISBN 9780226272634
  • German Idealism as Constructivism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. ISBN 9780226349909
  • Marx's Dream: From Capitalism to Communism. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2018. ISBN 9780226554525

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rockmore, Tom. On Constructivist Epistemology. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1995.
  2. ^ Weber, Eric Thomas. Rawls, Dewey and Constructivism: On the Epistemology of Justice. Continuum, 2010, p.1..

External linksEdit