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Dr. John L. Safford,
Professor of Political Science and Philosophy
Government and Philosophy
A USC Sumter professor of Government and Philosophy, John L. Safford, has recently published his fourth book, Invitation to Philosophy: Issues and Options. Dr. Safford and his wife Virginia moved from California to Sumter in July 1984. Before that, he taught for six years at a number of colleges, including a campus of the University of California. From 1967 until 1968 he served as a paratrooper in Vietnam. At USC Sumter he has taught classes in History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Karate. Of particular interest, he taught graduate-level courses in U.S. Constitutional History. In 1996 and 2007, he was USC Sumter's nominee for South Carolina's Governor's Professor of the Year Award. Apart from his students, many people know Dr. Safford as the author of some fifty articles in The Item. More recently, he has served as the Chair of the Division of Humanities, Social Science, and Education.
In 1987 Safford published Pragmatism and the Progressive Movement in the United States: The Origin of the New Social Sciences. It was among the first works to document the connection between American Philosophy and the practice of social science, and University Press of America listed it as a company best seller. Over the years it has been cited in numerous works, such as articles appearing in The Journal of American History. In 1990 Safford and Dr. Hasmukh Raval published a translation of a work on Hindu religious philosophy, Bhagavad Gita: A Philosophical System. Dr. Raval, assistant professor of Computer Science, did the translating, and Safford edited the work for philosophical content and wrote the first draft of the commentary. The virtue of this translation is that it helps make the classical Hindu philosophy intelligible from the standpoint of the Western philosophical and analytical tradition.
In 1995, Safford combined his on-going study of democracy with South Carolina history and published a journal article called, "John C. Calhoun, Lani Guinier, and Minority Rights" in PS: Political Science and Politics. Since then he has had the pleasure of seeing his article favorably cited in other works about democracy. In particular, the Calhoun article was on the required reading list for an American Government class taught at the University of Rochester in 2005.
The third book, Democracy is Dangerous: Resisting the Tyranny of the Majority, incorporates the Calhoun article as it tries to deal with the "democratic disease" of majority tyranny. Whereas "tyranny" usually is thought of as the misrule of a bad or evil leader, minorities everywhere have worried about the well-intentioned but injurious rule of democratic majorities. According to Safford, "We see other people as being prejudiced, not ourselves. (Who, for instance will admit to going to the wrong mosque, church or synagogue?) As the world generally becomes more and more democratic, minorities everywhere have to be on guard against the misplaced righteous indignation of those who would pass laws for their 'improvement'. This book is written for the purpose of maintaining the balance between liberty and democracy." As such, he uses it every semester as his textbook on democracy.
The most recent fourth book, Invitation to Philosophy: Issues and Options, is the 10th edition of a venerable introductory Philosophy textbook which has been in print since 1968. The original authors, Stanley Honer and Thomas Hunt, are deceased and when the third author Dennis L. Okholm decided to teach Theology full time, Wadsworth Publishers asked Safford to take over the project.
Professor Safford is currently finishing up a book manuscript on The History of Epistemology, or the science of how knowledge is gained and justified. His last two books can be obtained at the USC Sumter book store.