In this 1989 book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense (...) of human solidarity. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual freedom of the ironic, philosophical perspective with the public project of human solidarity as it is engendered through the insights and sensibilities of great writers. The book has a characteristically wide range of reference from philosophy through social theory to literary criticism. It confirms Rorty's status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike. (shrink)
In this volume Rorty offers a Deweyan account of objectivity as intersubjectivity, one that drops claims about universal validity and instead focuses on utility for the purposes of a community. The sense in which the natural sciences are exemplary for inquiry is explicated in terms of the moral virtues of scientific communities rather than in terms of a special scientific method. The volume concludes with reflections on the relation of social democratic politics to philosophy.
This volume complements two highly successful previously published volumes of Richard Rorty's philosophical papers: Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth, and Essays on Heidegger and Others. The essays in the volume engage with the work of many of today's most innovative thinkers including Robert Brandom, Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, Jacques Derrida, Jürgen Habermas, John McDowell, Hilary Putnam, John Searle, and Charles Taylor. The collection also touches on problems in contemporary feminism raised by Annette Baier, Marilyn Frye, and Catherine MacKinnon, and considers issues (...) connected with human rights and cultural differences. Anyone with a serious interest in contemporary philosophy and what it can do for us in the modern world will enjoy this invaluable collection. (shrink)
This volume presents a selection of the philosophical papers which Richard Rorty has written over the past decade, and complements three previous volumes of his papers: Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth, Essays on Heidegger and Others, and Truth and Progress. Topics discussed include the changing role of philosophy in Western culture over the course of recent centuries, the role of the imagination in intellectual and moral progress, the notion of ‘moral identity’, the Wittgensteinian claim that the problems of philosophy are linguistic (...) in nature, the irrelevance of cognitive science to philosophy, and the mistaken idea that philosophers should find the ‘place’ of such things as consciousness and moral value in a world of physical particles. The papers form a rich and distinctive collection which will appeal to anyone with a serious interest in philosophy and its relation to culture. (shrink)
Deconstruction and pragmatism constitute two of the major intellectual influences on the contemporary theoretical scene; influences personified in the work of Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. Both Rortian pragmatism, which draws the consequences of post-war developments in Anglo-American philosophy, and Derridian deconstruction, which extends and troubles the phonomenological and Heideggerian influence on the Continental tradition, have hitherto generally been viewed as mutually exclusive philosophical language games. The purpose of this volume is to bring deconstruction and pragmatism into critical confrontation with (...) one another through staging a debate between Derrida and Rorty, itself based on discussions that took place at the College International de Philosophie in Paris in 1993. The ground for this debate is layed out in introductory papers by Simon Critchley and Ernesto Laclau, and the remainder of the volume records Derrida's and Rorty's responses to each other's work. Chantal Mouffe gives an overview of the stakes of this debate in a helpful preface. (shrink)
The second volume pursues the themes of the first volume in the context of discussions of recent European philosophy focusing on the work of Heidegger and Derrida. His four essays on Heidegger include "Philosophy as Science, as Metaphor and as Politics" and "Heidegger, Kundera, and Dickens;" three essays on Derrida (including "Deconstruction and Circumvention" and "Is Derrida a Transcendental Philosopher?") are followed by a discussion of the uses to which Paul de Man and his followers have put certain Derridean ideas. (...) Rorty's concluding essays broaden outward with an essay on "Freud and Moral Deliberation" and essays discussing the social theories and political attitudes of various contemporary figures--Foucault, Lyotard, Habermas, Unger, and Castoriadis. (shrink)
Abstract: If, like Hegel and Dewey, one takes a historicist, anti-Platonist view of moral progress, one will be dubious about the idea that moral theory can be more than the systematization of the widely-shared moral intuitions of a certain time and place. One will follow Shelley, Dewey, and Patricia Werhane in emphasizing the role of the imagination in making moral progress possible. Taking this stance will lead one to conclude that although philosophy is indeed relevant to applied ethics, it is (...) not more relevant than many other fields of study (such as history, law, political science, anthropology, literature, and theology). (shrink)
The sixteen essays in this volume confront the current debate about the relationship between philosophy and its history. On the one hand intellectual historians commonly accuse philosophers of writing bad - anachronistic - history of philosophy, and on the other, philosophers have accused intellectual historians of writing bad - antiquarian - history of philosophy. The essays here address this controversy and ask what purpose the history of philosophy should serve. Part I contains more purely theoretical and methodological discussion, of such (...) questions as whether there are 'timeless' philosophical problems, whether the issues of one epoch are commensurable with those of another, and what style is appropriate to the historiography of the subject. The essays in Part II consider a number of case-histories. They present important revisionist scholarship and original contributions on topics drawn from ancient, early modern and more recent philosophy. All the essays have been specially commissioned, and the contributors include many of the leading figures in the field. The volume as a whole will be of vital interest to everyone concerned with the study of philosophy and of its history. (shrink)
The Linguistic Turn provides a rich and representative introduction to the entire historical and doctrinal range of the linguistic philosophy movement. In two retrospective essays titled "Ten Years After" and "Twenty-Five Years After," Rorty shows how his book was shaped by the time in which it was written and traces the directions philosophical study has taken since. "All too rarely an anthology is put together that reflects imagination, command, and comprehensiveness. Rorty's collection is just such a book."-- Review of Metaphysics (...) Richard Rorty is University Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia. (shrink)
This landmark collection of essays by six renowned philosophers explores the implications of the contentious realism/antirealism debate for epistemology. The essays examine issues such as whether epistemology needs to be realist, the bearing of a realist conception of truth on epistemology, and realism and antirealism in terms of a pragmatist conception of epistemic justification. Richard Rorty's essay provides a critical commentary on the other five.
Let me begin by asking you to consider some thought experiments. Suppose that you are being pursued by the police and you go to your family home and ask them to hide you. You would expect that they would do so. It would be abnormal if they did not. Consider again the reverse situation. You know that one of your parents or one of your children is guilty of a sordid crime and nonetheless he or she asks for your protection, (...) asks to be hidden from police inquiries. Many of us would be willing to perjure ourselves in order to supply such a child or parent with a false alibi. But if an innocent person would then be wrongly convicted as a result of our perjury, most of us would be torn by a conflict between loyalty and justice.Such a conflict will be felt, however, only to the extent that we can identify with the innocent person whom we have harmed. If the person is a neighbour the conflict will probably be intense. If a stranger, especially of a different race or class or nation, it may be considerably weaker. There has to be some sense that the victim is one of us before we start being tormented by the questionof whether we did the right thing when we committed perjury. So it might be equally appropriate to describe us as torn between conflicting loyalties — loyalty to our family and loyalty to some group large enough to include the victim of our perjury, rather than torn between loyalty andjustice.Our loyalty to such larger groups will however weaken or perhaps vanish when things get really tough. Then people whom we once thought of as like ourselves will be excluded. Sharing food with impoverished people down the street is natural and right in normal times but perhaps not in a famine when doing so would amount to disloyalty to one’s own family. The tougher things get, the more ties of loyalty to those near at hand tighten and those to everyone else slacken. (shrink)
This volume collects a number of important and revealing interviews with Richard Rorty, spanning more than two decades of his public intellectual commentary, engagement, and criticism. In colloquial language, Rorty discusses the relevance and nonrelevance of philosophy to American political and public life. The collection also provides a candid set of insights into Rorty's political beliefs and his commitment to the labor and union traditions in this country. Finally, the interviews reveal Rorty to be a deeply engaged social thinker and (...) observer. (shrink)
When it first appeared in 1979, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature hit the philosophical world like a bombshell. In it, Richard Rorty argued that, beginning in the seventeenth century, philosophers developed an unhealthy obsession with the notion of representation: comparing the mind to a mirror that reflects reality. Rorty's book is a powerful critique of this imagery and the tradition of thought that it spawned. Thirty years later, the book remains a must-read and stands as a classic of twentieth-century (...) philosophy. Its influence on the academy, both within philosophy and across a wide array of disciplines, continues unabated. This edition includes new essays by philosopher Michael Williams and literary scholar David Bromwich, as well as Rorty's previously unpublished essay "The Philosopher as Expert.". (shrink)
Richard Rorty's collected papers, written during the 1980s and now published in two volumes, take up some of the issues which divide Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophers and contemporary French and German philosophers and offer something of a compromise - agreeing with the latter in their criticisms of traditional notions of truth and objectivity, but disagreeing with them over the political implications they draw from dropping traditional philosophical doctrines. In this volume Rorty offers a Deweyan account of objectivity as intersubjectivity, one that (...) drops claims about universal validity and instead focuses on utility for the purposes of a community. The sense in which the natural sciences are exemplary for inquiry is explicated in terms of the moral virtues of scientific communities rather than in terms of a special scientific method. The volume concludes with reflections on the relation of social democratic politics to philosophy. (shrink)