Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

Contingency, Irony, and SolidarityI was at work a week or so ago and my boss got me to track down a quote by this guy and then to read over the article the quote was from The article is here I ve tended to avoid American pragmatists since a bad experience in my undergrad degree But I ve been reading lots of Dewey you sort of have to if you are going to be doing anything around the sociology of education and then the article above was so interesting that I thought I might read a bit of this Rorty guy.This was also interesting I m very fond of Hegel look, I know he was a reactionary old fart and all that All the same, I like that he saw change as the fundamental thing you need to know about the universe and that standard logic, that is, logic that is based on identity, simply cannot help us to gain a deep understanding of how the world works because identity is the wrong end of the telescope for understanding the world We need a kind of dialectical logic to really understand the world a dialectical logic that sees change as the thing to focus on, not identity The thing that is most obvious about the world isn t that it is always the same it is rather that it is always changing Having a philosophy that is based on the premise of the eternal unity of the universe Plato, say can only take you so far in understanding a universe that is fundamentally in constant flux That Plato had to invent a world of forms where these unchanging things could go on unchanging and to thereby assert that this world we live in is unreal probably ought to have been a bit of a give away Now, I ve gotten into trouble saying this sort of thing before here on goodreads and I have even had to block someone who would fly into irrational rants at the mere mention of Hegel s name someone who proudly said that the night he had torn one of Hegel s books to pieces was one of his favourite memories Such is the nature of philosophy, I guess nothing like a good book burning to warm the soul Still, my credo is that everything is related to everything else and change is the only absolute and as both of these ideas come from my mate Hegel, what can I say And Rorty, as with most of the American pragmatists, is rather fond of Hegel too.Hegel haunts this book Right from the introduction we are told that the author is much interested in the idea of a contingent human nature that is, something born of Hegel s historicism than of a Platonic or Kantian human essence.But if there is no true and deep human essence doesn t that make all of our opinions and hopes relative and meaningless How does one avoid the abyss of nihilism if there is not a grounding truth to human nature How, to make the case relevant to Rorty who here wants to assert the value of liberalism, can we assert such a view if there is no human nature to ground it with In some ways these are the same arguments that religious type people make against atheists Why don t you just rape and kill and steal and cheat if you don t believe in God to which the only answer is, You mean, the only reason you don t do those things is because you re afraid of what God might think Gosh.Rorty has a very particular notion of what being liberal means He says, I borrow my definition of liberal from Judith Shklar, who says that liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing we do Now, again when I was an undergraduate I wrote a short story for my professional writing degree which played with very similar ideas Clearly, people aren t all equal in many ways the least interesting things to say about people are to point out those things that make us all the same But at the time I thought that one of the things that proves our common humanity is the revulsion we feel when we see someone being tortured I was young and didn t realise at the time that people get around this problem by defining whole groups of others as less than human and then anything can happen to them as they don t count at all.So, I quite like this definition of liberal, but I also have reservations That is, there is a naivety about it that reminds me of my own naivety and nothing repulses us Not only does Rorty see our definition of human as being contingent, but he also says that all contingency boils down to how we go about using language Ironically enough, Rorty therefore sees language as being the main way we might go about fixing these problems Language allows us to redefine problems and so to make one of those Kuhnian paradigm shifts And the people who are best able to do that with language are certainly not philosophers but rather poets in the broadest sense of the term I guess my quick and dirty summary of this book is we need to be taught how to feel compassion for people who aren t like us and the best way we have to learn how to feel compassion is to read fiction For God sake, we even learn how to feel compassion for a guy who has been turned into a cockroach if we read particularly good fiction so, how could that not make the world a better place The things I liked about this book were that it was fairly easy to read, it said interesting things about Foucault, Nietzsche, Hegel, Habermas and Nabokov and things that were sympathetic to their core ideas and not just pointing and laughing or shrugging shoulders in disregard It was clear Rorty had engaged with their ideas in ways that were much than can be obtained from a quick glance over.So, this leads me to what I m going to make of all of this I guess I have the same problem with Rorty as I do with Foucault After reading them it is as if I have been shown all of the things that are wrong with the world, but am not shown a way out of the labyrinth Foucault s point, I guess, is that there only is labyrinth, not a way out But the attraction of Marxism, say, is that it offers a clear way out even if that way out to date has lead either to nightmare or nowhere.The book ends, or less, with a discussion of Orwell particularly his 1984 My fear is that we read 1984 as if it was a vision of a communist future which we have avoided and so which is no longer relevant except as history it is important to remember that 1984 was set in a future England Society has become much better at controlling populations than the Soviets or the Nazis were ever capable of As Postman points out, we do this by something closer to Brave New World than 1984 Sartre says that it is impossible to write a truly great novel premised on anti Semitism But we can and do make endless numbers of crap films based on anti Islam As much as we might hope that art might bring us to a compassionate world it seems just as capable of bring us to a divided one too Perhaps philosophy isn t the answer we have seen far too many philosophers line up and essentialize the whole of the Muslim world as if everyone living under a crescent moon was immediately identical Art has been too often tragically silent in all this too that is, it has been either silent or complicit Far too rarely has it lived up to Rorty s high estimation.This was a much better book than I thought it might have been But I thought the essay I ve linked to at the top of this was possibly as good as this entire book If you are unfamiliar with Rorty I would highly recommend you have a look at that. In This Book, Major American Philosopher Richard 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 But It Cannot Advance Liberalism S Social And Political Goals In Fact, Rorty Believes That It Is Literature And Not Philosophy That Can Do This, By Promoting A Genuine Sense Of Human Solidarity Specifically, It Is Novelists Such As Orwell And Nabokov Who Succeed In Awakening Us To The Cruelty Of Particular Social Practices And Individual Attitudes Thus, A Truly Liberal Culture 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 Rorty Uses A Wide Range Of References From Philosophy To Social Theory To Literary Criticism To Elucidate His Beliefs I read this book as a challenge to myself An engineering education tends to engender a Manichean sensibility, as solutions are either correct or incorrect When Richard Rorty died in 2007, I read a slate.com profile that classified him as that worst pariah of American middle class sensibility a relativist But, there was a definite measure of respect for the positions he took So I decided to give him a try, hoping to open my mind, but expecting to dance gleefully on his bleeding heart.Sadly, I wasn t able to dance as this book completely captivated me by throwing aside many notions I had about truth This book was a tough read for me at best, I m but a dilettante when it comes to philosophy, but with some Wikipedia assist, I could keep up I just think it s a very well written, very well thought out book And Rorty seems to actually care about what happens in the world, with people This opposed to some abstract philosophical construct that we should aspire to That gives the book a good deal of it s power, because it s talking about things we can do to make life a little better. The Post Card From Socrates to Freud and Beyond , 1984 , 1984 , 2 2 5 . www.emergenthermit.comThe late Richard Rorty scandalized people with his relaxed attitude when it came to truth He was often charged with terms like flippant and relativistic To rest at such a description of Rorty as a thinker would be to ignore his contribution to the dialogue of liberal thought, and also, to entertain the most refined prejudice of one contingent vocabulary Contingent vocabularies are what this book is all about In Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Rorty sets out to create a dialogue in which people who think that being cruel is the worst thing that one could do will gather together and find a way to eliminate the highest amount of suffering possible.For Rorty, foundationalism and metaphysics are out of the question As Wittgenstein revealed, there are no mechanics that put an idea in closer proximity to truth Philosophical problems are not cosmic problems but problems of grammar But the problem with getting the grammar right is that all vocabularies are contingent, so all of our knowledge belongs to a specific language game within a set of inherited rules.There are two strains of thought that occur often in western philosophy They are private irony and liberal hope Through most of the book, Rorty relies as much on novelists as cultural models as he does on philosophers It has been the liberal hope of thinkers to come up with a way to make things better for everyone around them It has been the private irony of other thinkers to find a means of self recreation This latter kind of thinker is an ironist one who recognizes the contingency of her own vocabulary, trusts no vocabulary that claims to be final though she doesn t think it possible for any vocabulary to be final.The ironist sets out to create her own vocabulary in order to find a place amidst the other recognized vocabularies Rorty posits that, this private irony, though capable of bringing people to personal transformation, is seldom capable of providing any reliable model for society as a whole Rorty relies on little to back his statement up other than providing aggregate examples of ironists and their horrific views of society, rather than providing a direct incompatibility that private irony has with liberal hope To exemplify quite convincingly some of the failures of ironists to provide this liberal hope, he presents us with Nietzsche s disastrous culture modeled after the will to power, paired with Foucault Derrida and Proust don t seem to have much to say about society at all, though they provide spectacular personal mythologies.As Rorty lays out, there is obviously a need for private irony, just as there is a need for liberal hope, but he feels it important to separate the two in practice The vocabulary of I cannot always agree with the vocabulary of We, and it is the We, vocabulary that affects each I Rorty argues that, for the most part, what moves the masses is not some new language game or system of thought, but something that people can relate to in this case, art Rorty uses novelists as models for liberal hope, for they don t waste inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out essences or approximations that certain ideas have to reality They simply represent something that is affecting their world and so get close to their readers.The two models of liberal hope that he goes into at length are Nabokov and Orwell Rorty is perhaps revolutionary in his use of Nabokov as a vehicle for liberal change, for most of Nabokov s readers simply take him at his word when he says of his own work that he has absolutely no message to convey and no moral goal to achieve Nabokov may have believed this of himself, but Rorty gives us some cogent reasons to suspect that Nabokov was terrified of suffering and thought that cruelty was the worst thing a human could do He cites examples from Lolita, arguing that Humbert Humbert s indifference to the suffering of those around him offers a far complicated moral than the simple idea that pedophiles are bad Rorty cites examples from Nabokov s other masterpiece, Pale Fire, and has a very easy time convincing us that the moral of both novels are very similar In both of them, he challenges us to be aware of what s around us, and often, you will find that someone is suffering.In Orwell, we see the faultiness of absolutes in the name of a cultural idea Though Orwell didn t write masterpieces of English prose, his work was a conscious vehicle for liberal hope which saw danger and addressed it directly in a time when others didn t see it.It is important to note that Rorty finds it equally important to have both private irony and liberal hope, but his whole book sets out a means of separating them in a way that will keep each where it can be utilized best Rorty seeks to do away with Kantian distinctions like content versus style and bad questions like, is art for art s sake For Rorty, all different kinds of art can do all different kinds of things.Though Rorty does come dangerously close to the same kinds of foundationalism that he rejects when he slips into using words like mistake to refer to contingency as if there was some foundation in which culture would be grounded if it weren t for this inherited set of circumstances we re always thrown into he offers solidarity as a brilliant synonym for truth, at least in terms of liberal hope.He says If we are ironic enough about our final vocabularies, and curious enough about everyone else s, we do not have to worry about whether we are in direct contact with moral reality, or whether we are blinded by ideology, or whether we are being weakly relativistic For Rorty, an idea s proximity to some out there truth is not even something worth determining or fixing He is concerned with the truth that is best for all of us He says that the better question is not Do you believe and desire what we believe and desire but, Are you suffering In the end, he argues that if we want private irony and liberal hope, it is possible to have both.In my jargon, this is the ability to distinguish the question of whether you and I share the same final vocabulary from the question of whether you are in pain Distinguishing these questions makes it possible to distinguish public from private questions, questions about pain from questions about the point of human life, the domain of the liberal from the domain of the ironist It thus makes it possible for a single person to be both.www.emergenthermit.com A Visit With Richard RortyI attended a philosophy conference last month on the theme of Metaphysics and Political Thought and heard many thoughtful papers including a paper about the American philosopher Richard Rorty 1931 2007 I learned a great deal from Rorty s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature many years ago The presentation I heard at the conference focused on Rorty s 1989 book Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity which I purchased while attending the conference and tried to read carefully after returning home I was interested because I had presented my own paper at the conference which described an approach sympathetic to the role of metaphysics in politics than I found in Rorty An ultimate goal would be to integrate his insights into my own thinking.Rorty s book fuses together two sets of lectures he gave in 1986 and 1987 and it has a disjointed feel Still, the book is lucidly written, challenging and difficult Part of what Rorty tries to do, emphasized by the presentation I heard, is to draw a distinction between public and private thought Public thought is akin to political thinking and to the shared values of people living together Private thinking is creative, purposeful, and idiosyncratic in which each individual creates and explores what gives most meaning to his or her life Rorty understands the goal of philosophers from Plato through Kant as integrating the public and the private They did so by trying to discover the ultimate nature of reality underlying and giving meaning to experience, both public and private Rorty maintains that this philosophical quest has proven futile because there is no such ultimate reality and the philosophical metaphysical search has been for chimeras His main reason for this is that human thought is always language based and based on how we learn to use and change language We have no access to a separate underlying reality but only to reality expressed in what following Wittgenstein has come to be called a language game Human thought is contingent based on time and society When thought changes, as from, say, a religious outlook on life to an outlook based upon science and reason, as expressed in the Enlightenment, it isn t so much that one set of arguments rebutted another as that people learned to use a different language and to ask different questions so that a former way of seeing ultimates, or what Rorty sometimes calls a final vocabulary was changed and by passed for another He wants to look at questions of the meaning and individual gives to one s life and the nature of a good society as discussed temporally and historically within a particular language with no ultimate reality available as an appeal and no particular connection between the private and the public There is a dialectic in Rorty s approach Broadly, he sees society in the West as first attempting a religious understanding to questions of meaning This was displaced by science and the Enlightenment Over a long history, he argues that it has been shown untenable to look to either religion or science for ultimate explanations beyond human language Thus Rorty argues for the contingency, finite character, and changeability of whatever people take to be their ultimates in private and political life Rorty also sees contemporary philosophy, particularly political philosophy as taking the approach of an ironist because it holds certain values strongly, such as the need to avoid cruelty to others, with a recognition that even the most strongly felt values are contingent and cannot be defended by an appeal to metaphysics against alternatives So to the sense of solidarity and shared human feeling is something people create in their lives rather than discover in a realm of absolute, unchanging reality While studying the history of philosophy can help certain individuals with their understanding, Rorty argues that a useful approach is through literature, novels, poetry, history, ethnography and the like This helps us understand other people and cultures by broadening our perspective and expanding sympathy rather than through argument.The book is written in the large parts each with chapters I found the first part the most interesting and important part of the book as Rorty explores the nature of contingency and rejects the metaphysics of appearance and reality as applied to human language, the nature of the human self, and the nature of a liberal community The second part of the book develops the distinction between the private and the public and argues that confusion results when people try to apply the need for self creativity and development in their own lives to shared community with others Rorty also develops and explains his understanding of irony and of being an ironist.The third part of the book discusses both private and public life in the context of literature and tries to show how literature and broad reading into great works which create sympathy for the lives of others can help create a sense of human solidarity to a greater degree than can appeals to principles or abstractions The book shows the great erudition and broad reading that Rorty recommends to his readers, both in philosophy and literature The philosophical characters in the book include Donald Davidson, Heidegger, Hegel, Derrida, Nietzsche, John Rawls, Habermas, and Literary and cultural figures receiving attention include Freud, Proust, Nabokov, and Orwell Oddly enough, I learned from Rorty s discussion of philosophers than from his literary criticism Perhaps this is because I am on the whole familiar with the philosophers he discusses than with the novelists he finds of critical importance.There is a lot to be learned from this book I had something of the same reaction to it that I had from reading Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature long ago The book made me think about reading metaphysics and philosophy as in part akin to poetry rather than abandoning what Rorty sees as the philosophical enterprise Also, I think Rorty practices metaphysics than he lets on He rather blithely assumes in this book the futility of both religion and science in doing the work that he sees metaphysics as trying to do His understanding of contingency may in part be arbitrary and in part narrower than it needs to be Particularly, there seems to me a lot of room in Rorty for smuggling religion in through the back door, so to speak, at least as it affects what he sees as the private side of the public , private distinction I say this with some sympathy for what I think Rorty is trying to do.Contrary to what might be the intent of his book, Rorty makes me think and seriously about philosophy rather than less His work makes me think of a partial redirection rather than an abandonment and it made me feel the love of reading and thought As I understand the book, it commendably and possibly surprisingly, encourages a sense of moderation on the political spectrum His book and the paper I heard at the conference helped me reframe my own thought and helped me think through as well the value, if any, of what I was trying to do.Robin Friedman Rorty posits a philosophy that in internally inconsistent, and ultimately, cowardly To the degree that people can create their own ironic selves, they will necessarily tend to destroy solidarity His notion of solidarity contradicts the contingent, ironic existences he argues that we have He just doesn t LIKE that self creators will come along that will increase suffering, so he creates a scheme that rejects their projects.The purpose of this ideal liberal society is to eradicate cruelty and suffering and to improve the day to day lives of the weakest and least fortunate human beings among us He correctly notes that this scheme is completely incompatible with the self creation involved in the private sphere If anyone was permitted to bind his private self creation program upon others, humiliation and destruction of freedom the autonomy produced by recognition of contingency would result Rorty, being as liberal as he is ironic, can t help but to tell us the good we ought to do he cannot countenance true contingent irony If he was honest he would have to admit that contingency removes any basis for community The only thing human beings have in common is their vulnerability to suffering, but that is no basis for solidarity The ability to feel pain is also what we share with animals, which is why Rorty s solidarity, as Nietzsche correctly forewarns, would reduce us to a herd While he says, there will be no higher standpoint to which we are all responsible and against whose precepts we might offend, CIS 50 , he nonetheless provides an ordering of society, based not on justice but on compassion, which Nietzsche and Aristotle both recognize as NOT being a virtue Nietzsche says, Error faith in the ideal is not blindness, error is cowardice Ecce Homo. I felt the author was mocking his reader and had contempt for their intelligence Rorty makes the true, the good and the deserving contingent on the vocabulary and the metaphors subscribed by the current crop of intellectuals which become subject to being subsumed and replaced until a cleverer set of word games come in to vogue Contrary to Rorty, I would state that reality is complex, and that our beliefs are not just the result of clever word games as Rorty tries to convince his reader By making our beliefs relative to the vocabulary of the moment, Rorty allows for no defense against a demagogue coming along and creating an alternative universe and claiming that all news that doesn t support him is fake news and claiming only he, the demagogue, has access to the truth because the truth is what he says it is and changes daily according to his whims of the moment or that mornings batch of tweets I have no problem saying such a person is wrong and I am right, because when it comes to fascist, tolerance, understanding, respect and consideration are not required Ultimately, Rorty s version of pragmatism would not be able to refute a simpleton when he says both sides are to blame when a Nazi rides his car into peaceful protestors , or Climate change is a Chinese hoax I can t really recommend this book and would recommend that a reader just read any of the 200 or so authors, philosophers, scientist or thinkers he quotes from instead including Galileo and especially his Dialogues Concerning Two Chief World Systems Rorty took a different lesson from Galileo than what I did For the most part, I found his summaries inadequate and at times intentionally misleading as if he had contempt for my intelligence or as if he had assumed I had not read most of the philosophers, scientist or thinkers he was citing Rorty likes Nietzsche and Heidegger s philosophy except for their illiberalism In his language they are ironist and he would say irony is the opposite of common sense , where common sense is metaphysics Once again, I would recommend Nietzsche who s fun to read or Heidegger who s painful to read over reading Rorty s misleading synopses As I was reading this book, I was concurrently reading Derrida s Heidegger The Question of Being and History Rorty talked a lot about Derrida and Heidegger within this book and at times I would cringe at how different wrong Rorty s take was on Derrida or Heidegger or even Derrida s take on Heidegger.In a footnote in the Nabokov section, Rorty did something that really irritated me He mentioned that Kinbote s homosexuality was made so plausible and charming within Nabokov s novel and that sexual obsessions are just handy examples of a general phenomenon as if homosexuality is a sexual obsession would anyone ever say that being straight was a sexual obsession and later in the chapter outside of the footnote he tells me Kinbote is a pedophile That logic reminds me of when people called the Catholic Priest homosexuals when in reality they were pedophiles as if homosexuality had anything to do with those monstrous actions committed by those Catholic Priest Rorty also made a snide remark on Proust who was gay for not being able to self create himself correctly I ve read Proust and I would not insinuate that he lacked self creation of any kind Sartre had long sections on Proust and why he was important to existentialism in his book Being and Nothingness I wonder why Rorty thought it was necessary to repeat much of the same material in his chapter on Proust, Derrida and Heidegger.Rorty does mention Kierkegaard though he definitely does not seem to be a fan of his Kierkegaard said irony is jealous of authenticity That s a better way of thinking about irony than the way Rorty does Obviously, Heidegger comes later than Kierkegaard, but authenticity is a key to understanding Heidegger Rorty gets at authenticity by his contingency and time and chance and with feelings and imagination as rediscovered by the Romantics but one would be better served just by reading Heidegger s Being and Time instead Rorty does not like the Enlightenment The Enlightenment rejects myths and preferred reason as the gateway to justified true beliefs instead of relying on our feelings and imagination Rorty wants to embrace the myths of the ironist until the next set of myths comes along, and he prefers the feelings and imagination as espoused by the Romantics He refers to our changing conceptions of the world as irony and would categorize all metaphysics as a common sense myth of intentional last words on a subject Heidegger will say metaphysics ended with Hegel, and Rorty will basically agree with that In this book, Rorty liked Dialectics of Enlightenment for the most part I despise that book and it is the foundation for the Frankfurt School and for one of my least favorite books, Closing of The American Mind by Alan Bloom, a book published 2 years before Rorty s book, and it had been a mega best seller There is a straight line connection from the Frankfurt School to Jordan Peterson, and I think Peterson epitomizes shallowness Rorty is opening up a pragmatic version for myths, feelings and imaginations leading our political discourse into a dangerous and a wrongheaded territory.I don t think there was anything of substance in this book that I had not read elsewhere Rorty seemed to be incredibly sympathetic towards Freud and used him as an exemplar for what he was getting at Freud is fun to read but in the end his brand of functionalism led to blaming refrigerator moms for autism Rorty doesn t seem to accept that we are all idiosyncratic individuals born differently be it with autism, schizophrenia, manic depressive, gay or straight and so on Freud s reworking and redefinitions led to almost nothing worthwhile and Rorty does not get that Individuals idiosyncratically exist making reality complex and we are not easily enlightened by clever word games as Rorty wants his reader to believe The greatest thing of all about being human is that it is up to the individual to discover what is true, what is ethical and what is most deserving of our own consideration and devotion Even if we do live in a clever word game, one is best served by acting as if we don t I m always amazed that the right wing mostly ignore Nietzsche, Heidegger and the argumentation style of Rorty, because it would give them an ontology for their beliefs that would be hard to refute, and ridiculously they latch on to the shallow Ayn Rand, Jordan Peterson or regurgitate Fox News or get their daily batch of truth from Donald Trump s morning set of contradictory tweets in 144 letters or less Yes, I know Rorty is said to be a leftist but his argumentation could easily be adapted by the rightist of today That makes me wonder if Rorty was just punking his readers with this book As for me, I would not devote a chapter to Orwell as a paradigm of liberal thought even though he wrote so elegantly against fascism and communism, because I think it s possible to think of Orwell in different terms from what was presented at length by Rorty. 070813 fascinating meta philosophy critique, about entire tendencies in thought towards metaphysician here a bad thing and the ironist generally a good thing but I can see how he could annoy those who are searching for some kind of holistic certainty, some way of thought that is atemporal, usually given capitals whether thick or thin, according to your particular final vocabularyso he does not refer to my favourite philosopher, so he gets things out of Heidegger, Nietzsche, even Kant, which I do not know, so he refers to Nabokov, so he gets theory thick on Orwell, so he valourizes the ironist and never allows enquiry, doubt, freedom to talk, any restHegel suggests fiction and poetic work will soon be surpassed by Philosophy, here Rorty argues the other way round, heartening for artists, denigration of idea thinkers and all those who believe in the value of love of wisdom for me, suspended somewhere between these ways of being, there is always already value in both styles of life rather than deflationary dissolving, resolving, the equation of life, I like to believe life is ambiguity to be lived and not problem to be solvedbut then I am reading Heidegger at the moment, and the only commonality in all these attitudes towards Art, is that it is Important I hope so I am enjoying Heidegger s ideas about art as calling forth works of art, rather than the work all building up into a catalog of art Outstanding This is the closest that a work of philosophy has ever come to reflecting my own personal beliefs Rorty was an analytical philosopher in the Anglo American tradition that had a road to Damascus conversion to Continental philosophy His writing is in the tradition of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida combined with the Pragmatists, but he writes very clearly He writes in such a way as to express exactly what he means to say, without ducking behind vague and complex language like many of the Post Modern or Post Structuralist philosophers Rorty believes that the best way for human beings to understand life, the world and other people is through literature, and so do I He provides a coherant defence of Liberalism He reconciles his and my liking of various antithetical thinkers, writers and ideas For example, I love Nietzsche, but I wouldn t want to live in the kind of world he seems to want to create, and this book shows how that is possible I shall need to re read this book to fully understand and appreciate it, but Rorty has already entered my pantheon of guru s.

Richard Rorty 1931 2007 developed a distinctive and controversial brand of pragmatism that expressed itself along two main axes One is negative a critical diagnosis of what Rorty takes to be defining projects of modern philosophy The other is positive an attempt to show what intellectual culture might look like, once we free ourselves from the governing metaphors of mind and knowledge in which

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  • Paperback
  • 201 pages
  • Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
  • Richard M. Rorty
  • English
  • 10 July 2019
  • 9780521367813

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