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.
One of America's foremost philosophers challenges the lost generation of the American Left to understand the role it might play in the great tradition of democratic intellectual labor that started with writers such as Walt Whitman and John Dewey.
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)
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)
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)
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES about the Mind-Body Identity Theory form a case-study for the investigation of the methods practiced by linguistic philosophers. Recent criticisms of these methods question that philosophers can discern lines of demarcation between "categories" of entities, and thereby diagnose "conceptual confusions" in "reductionist" philosophical theories. Such doubts arise once we see that it is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to draw a firm line between the "conceptual" and the "empirical," and thus to differentiate between a statement embodying a conceptual (...) confusion and one that expresses a surprising empirical result. The proponent of the Identity Theory are identical with certain brain-processes) holds that his opponents' arguments to the effect that empirical inquiry could not identify brain-processes and sensations are admirable illustrations of this difficulty. For, he argues, the classifications of linguistic expressions that are the ground of his opponents' criticism are classifications of a language which is as it is because it is the language spoken at a given stage of empirical inquiry. But the sort of empirical results that would show brain processes and sensations to be identical would also bring about changes in our ways of speaking. These changes would make these classifications out of date. To argue against the Identity Theory on the basis of the way we talk now is like arguing against an assertion that supernatural phenomena are identical with certain natural phenomena on the basis of the way in which superstitious people talk. There is simply no such thing as a method of classifying linguistic expressions that has results guaranteed to remain intact despite the results of future empirical inquiry. Thus in this area there is no method which will have the sort of magisterial neutrality of which linguistic philosophers fondly dream. (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. 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. (shrink)
In his final work, Richard Rorty provides the definitive statement of his political thought. Rorty equates pragmatism with anti-authoritarianism, arguing that because there is no authority we can rely on to ascertain truth, we can only do so intersubjectively. It follows that we must learn to think and care about what others think and care about.
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)
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)
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)
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)
In 'Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature' Richard Rorty presented his provocation and influential vision of the post-philosophical culture, calling upon professional philosophers to accept that epistemology is dead, that the analytic method is a myth, and that philosophy and science are merely forms of literature.
If, like Hegel and Dewey, one takes a historicist, anti-Platonist view of moral progress, one will be dubious about the idea that moraltheory 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)
Replies to an earlier article ("mind-Body identity, Privacy, And categories") by cornman and bernstein depend upon a tacit adoption of what sellars has called "the myth of the given." both critics assume that what appears to us, Or what we experience, Is what it is independently of the language we use. But there is no criterion for the adequacy of a bit of language to a bit of non-Linguistic awareness, And thus no way to show that a materialistic vocabulary would (...) be "inadequate" to our experience. (shrink)
Though coming from distinct intellectual traditions, Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo are united in their criticism of the metaphysical tradition. The challenges they put forward extend beyond philosophy and entail a reconsideration of the foundations of belief in God and the religious life. They urge that the rejection of metaphysical truth does not necessitate the death of religion. Instead it opens new ways of imagining what it is to be religious. This unique collaboration fuses pragmatism and hermeneutics and recognizes the (...) limits of both traditional religious belief and modern secularism. Rorty discusses Vattimo's work Belief and argues that the end of metaphysics paves the way for an anti-essentialist religion. Vattimo explores the surprising congruence between Christianity and hermeneutics in light of the dissolution of metaphysical truth. In a concluding dialogue, both philosophers analyze the future of religion together with the political, social, and historical aspects that characterize our contemporary postmodern, postmetaphysical, and post-Christian world. (shrink)
American pragmatist Rorty and the French analytic philosopher Engel present their radically different perspectives on truth and its correspondence to reality. "What's the Use of Truth?" is a rare opportunity to experience each side of this impassioned debate clearly and concisely.