Paul Piccone

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Paul Piccone (January 17, 1940 – July 12, 2004) was an Italian-American philosopher, critical theorist, intellectual historian, and most notably the founder and long-time editor of the journal TELOS.

He was born in L'Aquila in Italy to a family that emigrated to Rochester, New York in the mid-1950s. In 1968 he and others started the journal TELOS, which he edited until his death in 2004.

He completed a doctorate in philosophy at SUNY in 1970. He then taught at Washington University, St. Louis until 1977.

Life[edit]

From Timothy Luke's "The Trek with Telos: A Rememberance (sic) of Paul Piccone"[1]:

"Paul Piccone was one of this generation's most influential critical intellectuals, whose analytical work ranged from phenomenological Marxism to analyses of neo-Stalinism in Eastern Europe to Carl Schmitt's geopolitical visions for new modes of civic action. Piccone was born in L'Aquila, Italy on January 17, 1940. He immigrated to the United States with his family at age 14, and they settled in Rochester, New York. After undergraduate studies at Indiana University, he did his doctoral work in philosophy at SUNY-Buffalo where he received his Ph.D. in 1970. He was appointed to a position in the Department of Sociology at Washington University, St. Louis, and published Telos from his office there until he was denied promotion and tenure in 1977. Following a tumultuous administrative and legal struggle to reverse that decision, he left the Midwest to set up shop in New York's East Village in the 1980s.

For over three decades, Telos survived as an independent "quarterly journal of critical thought" under his engaged and always intense editorship. Not long after turning 60, Piccone contracted a rare form of cancer during 2000. He battled it successfully for many long months, but on July 12, 2004, he died at age 64. A sharp philosophical critic and insightful political analyst whose award-winning book Italian Marxism remains the single best study of this subject, Paul Piccone also was the editor, organizer, and publisher of Telos. While he was a renowned scholar of international repute in his own right, Telos is his major legacy to the world, and it is the project for which he is best known. Many often experienced bombastic or even brusque "first contacts" with Paul Piccone, but that intensity belied how fully he was borne along by a bubbling spirit of self-confidence, tough-mindedness, and craftsmanship. Much of this apparent bombast came from his unusual voice. And, in so many ways, that voice was the quality with which he defined himself—both personally and intellectually. Its sound engaged, enraged, or entranced, but his voice is what most will remember—first, and maybe last—about him. Echoes of this voice gather in his friend's memories, its conceptual cadence still collects thinkers together, and the power continues to move many in their lives. With everyone's memories, from his stories, and in the pages of Telos, Paul Piccone's voice will reverberate across the years for readers and writers.

Much of what Telos editors now do, have done, and will do in the future can be traced back in some way or another to Paul Piccone and Telos. While he could seem bombastic and brusque, he also was a generous and engaging person. Even so, one must keep the picture clear here. Paul Piccone could be quite cantankerous, cranky, or contradictory. On any given day, he would be argumentative and analytical, amusing and alienating, astonishing and aggravating. So time spent with Piccone was never dull. And, as Telos shows, he always strived to be, at the end of the day, ahead of the pack, attentive to his craft, and amazing in his philosophical and political passions.

Unlike too many self-proclaimed liberal academics, who talk the talk but never walk the walk of embracing real difference, Paul strode through life gathering together one of the most truly diverse gaggle of colleagues, collaborators, or real comrades one has have ever seen. From all classes, nationalities, races, identities, religions, occupations, and neighborhoods, a whole host of people would call Paul their friend, and they continued to do so throughout their lives."

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