Rorty's ethical de-divinization of the moralist self

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (1):135-147 (2006)
This article examines Richard Rorty's approach to the self in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity . In spite of their differing philosophical bases, Rorty and Emmanuel Levinas converge methodologically in their treatments of the self by avoiding paradigmatic notions of human nature and a philosophical project of justification. Although Rorty refuses to prioritize a moralist account of the self over its romanticist rivals, his presentation relies on the reader's response to the ethical appeal of the other as depicted by Levinas: Rorty ultimately de-divinizes the moralist self on an ethical basis. Finally, a Levinasian approach would supplement Rorty's view of the self by manifesting: concern for victims of de-moralization, greater appreciation for philosophical rationality and justification, and acceptance of self-critically executed paternalistic interventions. In addition, Rorty's mistrust of universals converges with Kant's apprehension that ethical universalization could treat human beings as less than ends in themselves. Key Words: ethics • Immanuel Kant • Emmanuel Levinas • neopragmatism • phenomenology • postmodernity • psychology • Richard Rorty • the self • solidarity.
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