Republish Rick Roderick's Book!

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Rick Roderick (1949 - 2002) led a life committed to the mass understanding and diffusion of philosophy and its application to popular culture. Through teaching both at universities and through his “The Philosophy of Human Values” videotape lecture series he reached hundreds of thousands of people, making complex ideas accessible to everyday life.

Roderick has been discovered by new generations in recent years as his 3 lecture series’ originally published by The Teaching Company, as part of the Great Lecture series, have been uploaded to YouTube on multiple channels, gaining up to several hundred thousand per video. This audience is attracted by Roderick’s calm and down to earth approach, often peppered with jokes and references to mainstream culture. In this sense he is the father of the LeftTube and Breadtube phenomena, whereby YouTube users make videos on leftist philosophical and political issues. Many joke that Slavoj Zizek must in fact be Roderick, as the rise of the Slovenian philosopher to international prominence occurred shortly after Roderick’s passing. Though jokes aside, Roderick was the blueprint for the public philosopher of the digital age.

Roderick persisted in promoting the value of philosophy far and wide, despite a life beset with mental health issues and a traumatic event experienced in his late teens. He led an active life as a professor at Duke University, where he was involved in campus politics, including gay, lesbian and civil rights, yet was denied tenure after 8 years service in around 1992-93. No clear cut reason can be established for this except possibly a lack of academic publications, despite his popular video series starting in 1990.  

It would appear Roderick rocked the boat and he was certainly ahead of his time. Simply the fact of him appearing in the video format may have challenged his departmental superiors. Many of his references to popular culture make sense today as if he were talking about the big data era. It is with this in mind and in recognition of a life dedicated to a popular understanding of philosophers from Socrates, to Kant, Hegel, Marcuse, Sartre, Foucault, and Derrida, to name a few, that this petition asks that Roderick’s one book 'Habermas and the Foundations of Critical Theory' (1986) be reprinted by SpringerLink (Palgrave Macmillan), or the rights be given over to another publishing house, or it be out in the public domain. Not least as Habermas is an important philosopher of our time in his own right, who Roderick doubtlessly makes accessible in his book.

We urge that the work of Roderick be accorded the level of recognition it deserves and that his book be made public for current generations to learn from.

We realize the processes and bureaucracy, as well and financial considerations involved in republishing Habermas and the Foundations of Critical Theory are no doubt considerable, yet, as Roderick said (this being the header quote to the brilliant tribute website by his son Max Roderick): 

‘Act as though you are free you might get lucky! You might be free - who knows! Act that way. It’s worth trying!’

We say to SpringerLink: Be free, organize the republishing of Roderick (or make the book open access as a pdf) and put him at the center of the canon of great de-mystifiers! The people signing this petition will not only promote/read/diffuse the book, you’ll also become the coolest publisher on the internet, for a while!