Rorty Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism Pdf File



  1. Rorty Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism Pdf Files
  2. Rorty Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism Pdf File Download

Rorty Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism Pdf Merge M4p To Mp3 Converter Crack Torrent Splinter Cell Black List Colector Edition Unlocker For Pc Terjemahan Buku Economic Development Michael P. Todaro Into Another Ignaurus Rar Lingo 11 Serial Key Encyclopedia Britannica 2012 Ultimate Edition Free Download Pdf. Richard Rorty, it has been recently asserted, is the most influential thinker in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy (Haber 1994, p.7). Richard Rorty is also an imperialist. He claims dominion for a new postmodern bourgeois liberalism. Thinkers Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida. According to Postmodernism concept, the world is the text and the unique possible model of it is text-reality.

The phrase 'liberal fascism' is a strange phrase, no doubt. What I mean to suggest by the phrase is, in a way, the end of liberalism, the degeneration of liberalism. As many thinkers have noted, including Jose Ortega y Gasset in his 279. Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida, Rorty 1 Modern and postmodern 5 Modernism and the Enlightenment 7 Postmodernism versus the Enlightenment 14 Postmodern academic themes 15 Postmodern cultural themes 18 Why postmodernism? 20 Chapter Two: The Counter-Enlightenment Attack on Reason Enlightenment reason, liberalism, and science 23.

First published Sat Feb 3, 2001; substantive revision Sat Jun 16, 2007

Richard Rorty (1931–2007) developed a distinctive andcontroversial brand of pragmatism that expressed itself along two mainaxes. One is negative—a critical diagnosis of what Rorty takesto be defining projects of modern philosophy. The other ispositive—an attempt to show what intellectual culture might looklike, once we free ourselves from the governing metaphors of mind andknowledge in which the traditional problems of epistemology andmetaphysics (and indeed, in Rorty's view, the self-conception ofmodern philosophy) are rooted. The centerpiece of Rorty's critique isthe provocative account offered in Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature (1979, hereafter PMN). In this book, and in the closelyrelated essays collected in Consequences of Pragmatism (1982,hereafter CP), Rorty's principal target is the philosophical idea ofknowledge as representation, as a mental mirroring of a mind-externalworld. Providing a contrasting image of philosophy, Rorty has soughtto integrate and apply the milestone achievements of Dewey, Hegel andDarwin in a pragmatist synthesis of historicism and naturalism.Characterizations and illustrations of a post-epistemologicalintellectual culture, present in both PMN (part III) and CP(xxxvii-xliv), are more richly developed in later works, such asContingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989, hereafter CIS), inthe popular essays and articles collected in Philosophy and SocialHope (1999), and in the four volumes of philosophical papers,Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991, hereafter ORT);Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991, hereafter EHO);Truth and Progress (1998, hereafter TP); and Philosophyas Cultural Politics (2007, hereafter PCP). In these writings,ranging over an unusually wide intellectual territory, Rorty offers ahighly integrated, multifaceted view of thought, culture, andpolitics, a view that has made him one of the most widely discussedphilosophers in our time.

1. Biographical Sketch

Richard Rorty was born on October 4th, 1931, in New York City. He grewup, as he recounts in Achieving Our Country (1998, hereafterAC), 'on the anti-communist reformist Left in mid-century' (AC 59),within a circle combining anti-Stalinism with leftist social activism.'In that circle,' Rorty tells us, 'American patriotism,redistributionist economics, anticommunism, and Deweyan pragmatism wenttogether easily and naturally.' (AC 61) In 1946 Rorty went to theUniversity of Chicago, to a philosophy department which at that timeincluded Rudolph Carnap, Charles Hartshorne, and Richard McKeon, all ofwhom were Rorty's teachers. After receiving his BA in 1949, Rortystayed on at Chicago to complete an M.A. (1952) with a thesis onWhitehead supervised by Hartshorne. From 1952 to 1956 Rorty was atYale, where he wrote a dissertation entitled 'The Concept ofPotentiality.' His supervisor was Paul Weiss. After the completion ofhis Ph.D., followed by two years in the army, Rorty received his firstacademic appointment, at Wellesley College. In 1961, after three yearsat Wellesley, Rorty moved to Princeton University where he stayed untilhe went to the University of Virginia, in 1982, as Kenan Professor ofthe Humanities. Rorty left the University of Virginia in 1998,accepting an appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature atStanford University. In the course of his career, Rorty receivedseveral academic awards and honours, including a Guggenheim Fellowship(1973-74) and a MacArthur Fellowship (1981-1986). He held a numberof prestigious lectureships, giving, among others, the NorthcliffeLectures at University College, London (1986), the Clark Lectures atTrinity College, Cambridge (1987), and the Massey Lectures at Harvard(1997). Rorty died June 8, 2007.

2. Against Epistemology

On Rorty's account, modern epistemology is not only an attempt tolegitimate our claim to knowledge of what is real, but also an attemptto legitimate philosophical reflection itself—a pressing task,on many accounts, once the advent of the so-called newscience of the sixteenth and seventeenth century gradually gavecontent to a notion of knowledge obtained by the methodologicalinterrogation of nature herself. Because the result of this kind ofinterrogation, theoretical empirical knowledge, is so obviouslyfruitful, and also carries with it seemingly uncontentious norms ofprogress, its mere presence poses a legitimation challenge to a formof thought, and claim to knowledge, that is distinct fromit. Cartesian epistemology, in Rorty's picture, is designed to meetthis challenge. It is sceptical in a fundamental way; sceptical doubtsof a Cartesian sort, that is, doubts that can be raised about any setof empirical claims whatever, and so cannot be alleviated byexperience, are tailor-made to preserve at once a domain and a job forphilosophical reflection. Rorty's aim in PMN is to undermine theassumptions in light of which this double legitimation project makessense.

2.1 Epistemological Behaviorism

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That any vocabulary is optional and mutable is the basic convictionbehind Rorty's attack on representationalist epistemology carried outin PMN. It informs, for instance, the genealogy (chapter one) anddeconstruction (chapter two) of the concept of mind offered in thebook's first part, 'Our Glassy Essence.' This historicist conviction,however, is not itself a central theme of PMN, and it emerges forexplicit discussion only in the final section of the book,'Philosophy,' which is the shortest and in some ways least developed ofits three parts. The argumentative core of PMN is found in its secondpart, 'Mirroring'. Here Rorty develops and extends a diverse lot ofarguments—notably from Wilfrid Sellars, Willard van Orman Quine,Thomas Kuhn, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Donald Davidson—into a generalcritique of the defining project of modern epistemology, viz. theconceptions of mind, of knowledge and of philosophy bequeathed by the17th and 18th centuries. Rorty's key claim isthat 'the Kantian picture of concepts and intuitions getting togetherto produce knowledge is needed to give sense to the idea of‘theory of knowledge’ as a specifically philosophicaldiscipline, distinct from psychology.' (PMN 168). According to Rorty,

This is equivalent to saying that if we do not have thedistinction between what is 'given' and what is 'added by the mind,' orthat between the 'contingent' (because influenced by what is given) andthe necessary (because entirely 'within' the mind and under itscontrol), then we will not know what would count as a 'rationalreconstruction' of our knowledge. We will not know what epistemology'sgoal or method could be. (PMN 168-9)

Epistemology, in Rorty's account, is wedded to a picture of mind'sstructure working on empirical content to produce in itselfitems—thoughts, representations—which, when things gowell, correctly mirror reality. To loosen the grip of this picture onour thinking is to challenge the idea that epistemology—whethertraditional Cartesian or 20th century linguistic—is the essenceof philosophy. To this end, Rorty combines a reading of Quine's attackon a version of the structure-content distinction in 'Two Dogmas ofEmpiricism' (1952), with a reading of Sellars' attack on the idea ofgivenness in 'Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind' (1956/1997). OnRorty's reading, though neither Sellars nor Quine is able fully totake in the liberating influence of the other, they are reallyattacking the same distinction, or set of distinctions. While Quinecasts doubt on the notion of structure or meaning whichlinguistically-turned epistemology had instated in place of mentalentities, Sellars, questioning the very idea of givenness, came at thedistinction from the other side:

…Sellars and Quine invoke the same argument, onewhich bears equally against the given-versus-nongiven and thenecessary-versus-contingent distinctions. The crucial premise of thisargument is that we understand knowledge when we understand the socialjustification of belief, and thus have no need to view it as accuracyof representation. (PMN 170)

The upshot of Quine's and Sellars' criticisms of the myths and dogmasof epistemology is, Rorty suggests, that 'we see knowledge as a matterof conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt tomirror nature.' (PMN 171) Rorty provides this view with a label:'Explaining rationality and epistemic authority by reference to whatsociety lets us say, rather than the latter by the former, is theessence of what I shall call ‘epistemologicalbehaviorism,’ an attitude common to Dewey and Wittgenstein.'(PMN 174)

Epistemological behaviorism leaves no room for the kind ofpractice-transcending legitimation that Rorty identifies as thedefining aspiration of modern epistemology. Assuming that epistemicpractices do, or at least can, diverge, it is not surprising thatRorty's commitment to epistemological behaviorism should lead tocharges of relativism or subjectivism. Indeed, many who share Rorty'shistoricist scepticism toward the transcending ambitions ofepistemology—friendly critics like Hilary Putnam, John McDowelland Daniel Dennett—balk at the idea that there are noconstraints on knowledge save conversational ones. Yet this is acentral part of Rorty's position, repeated and elaborated as recentlyas in TP and PCP. Indeed, in TP he invokes it precisely in order todeflect this sort of criticism. In 'Hilary Putnam and the RelativistMenace,' Rorty says:

In short, my strategy for escaping the self-referentialdifficulties into which 'the Relativist' keeps getting himself is tomove everything over from epistemology and metaphysics into culturalpolitics, from claims to knowledge and appeals to self-evidence tosuggestions about what we should try. (TP 57)

That epistemological behaviorism differs from traditional forms ofrelativism and subjectivism is easier to see in light of Rorty'scriticism of the notion of representation, and the cluster ofphilosophical images which surround it.

2.2 Antirepresentationalism

Rorty's enduring attitude to relativism and subjectivism is that bothare products of the representationalist paradigm. Though the theme isexplicit in PM and CP ('Pragmatism, Relativism, Irrationalism'), it iswith Rorty's later and further appropriation of Davidson that hiscriticism of the idea of knowledge as representation becomes fullyelaborated (ORT 'Introduction' and Part II). Drawing on Davidson'scriticism of the scheme-content distinction ('On the Very Idea of aConceptual Scheme') and of the correspondence theory of truth ('TheStructure and Content of Truth'), Rorty is able to back up hisrejection of any philosophical position or project which attempts todraw a general line between what is made and what is found, what issubjective and what is objective, what is mere appearance and what isreal. Rorty's position is not that these conceptual contrasts neverhave application, but that such application is always context andinterest bound and that there is, as in the case of the related notionof truth, nothing to be said about them in general. Rorty's commitmentto the conversationalist view of knowledge must therefore bedistinguished from subjectivism or relativism, which, Rorty argues,presuppose the very distinctions he seeks to reject. Equally, Rorty'sepistemological behaviorism must not be confused with an idealism thatasserts a primacy of thought or language with respect to the unmediatedworld, since this, too, is a position that is undercut by Rorty'sDavidsonian position. In light of the view of truth and of meaning thatRorty appropriates from Davidson, his conversationalism is not a matterof giving priority to the subjective over the objective, or to mind'spower over world's constraint. Rather it is the other side of hisanti-representationalism, which denies that we are related to the worldin anything other than causal terms. Differently put, Rorty arguesthat we can give no useful content to the notion that the world, by itsvery nature, rationally constrains choices of vocabulary with which tocope with it. (TP 'The Very Idea of Human Answerability to the World:John McDowell's Version of Empiricism').

2.3 Rationality, Science, and Truth

Attacking the idea that we must acknowledge the world's normativeconstraint on our belief-systems if we are to be rational subjects,Rorty has drawn a great deal of criticism that takes science,particularly natural science, as its chief reference point. Two generalkinds of criticisms are often raised. The first insists that scienceconsists precisely in the effort to learn the truth about how thingsare by methodically allowing us to be constrained in our beliefs by theworld. On this view, Rorty is simply denying the very idea of science.The other kind of criticism seeks to be internal: if Rorty's view ofscience were to prevail, scientists would no longer be motivated tocarry on as they are; science would cease to be the useful sort ofthing that Rorty also thinks it is (see, eg., Bernard Williams, 'Autoda Fe' in Malachowski). However, Rorty's view of science is morecomplicated than he himself sometimes implies. He says: 'I tend to viewnatural science as in the business of controlling and predictingthings, and as largely useless for philosophical purposes.' ('Reply toHartshorne,' Saatkamp 32) Yet he spends a good deal of time drawing analternative picture of the intellectual virtues that good scienceembodies (ORT Part I). This is a picture which eschews the notion thatscience succeeds, when it does, in virtue of being in touch withreality in a special way, the sort of way that epistemologists, whensuccessful, can clarify. It is in this sense specifically that Rortydisavows science as philosophically significant. Good science maynevertheless be a model of rationality, in Rorty's view, exactly in sofar as scientific practice has succeeded in establishing institutionsconducive to democratic exchange of view.

The provocative and counterintuitive force of Rorty's treatment ofrationality and science in terms of conversational ethics isundeniable. It is important to realize, though, that Rorty is notdenying that there is any bona fide use of notions like truth,knowledge, or objectivity. Rather his point is that our ordinary usesof these notions always trade for their content and point on particularfeatures of their varying contexts of application. His further point isthat when we abstract away from these different contexts and practices,in search of general notions, we are left with pure abstracthypostatizations incapable of providing us with any guide to action atall. The upshot, Rorty holds, is that we simply do not have a conceptof objective reality which can be invoked either to explain the successof some set of norms of warrant, or to justify some set of standardsover against others. This is perhaps clearest in Rorty's treatment ofthe concept of truth. With regard to truth, Rorty's rhetoric andphilosophical strategy has indeed shifted over the last three decades.As late as in 1982 (in CP) he still attempted to articulate his view oftruth by drawing on William James's famous definition in terms of whatis good in the way of belief. Soon after this, however, Rorty comes todoubt the point of any theory of truth, and, following Davidson's leadexplicitly rejects all attempts to explicate the notion of truth interms of other concepts. Rorty's mature view of the point andsignificance of the concept of truth is first elaborated in 'Davidson,Pragmatism and Truth,' in ORT. Recent expressions are found in thefirst of the two Spinoza Lectures given at the University of Amsterdamin 1997, 'Is it Desirable to Love truth?', in the paper, 'Is Truth aGoal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson versus Crispin Wright' (TP), as wellas in the introductions to, respectively, TP and PSH. In these writingsRorty argues that while 'truth' has various important uses, it does notitself name a goal towards which we can strive, over and above warrantor justification. His argument is not that truth is reducible towarrant, but that the concept has no deep or substantive criterialcontent at all. That is, there are only semantic explanations to beoffered for why it is the case that a given sentence is true just whenits truth conditions are satisfied. So aiming for truth, as opposed towarrant, does not point to a possible line of action, just as we haveno measure of our approximation to truth other than increasing warrant.Indeed, for Rorty, this is part of what makes the concept so useful, ina manner not coincidentally analogous with goodness; it ensures that nosentence can ever be analytically certified as true by virtue of itspossession of some other property. Rorty's attitude to the concept oftruth has been much criticized, often on the grounds that the verynotion of warrant, indeed the concept of belief in general, presupposesthe notion of truth. However, it may be that we can do justice to theseconnections without supposing that the notion of truth thus involvedbacks up the notions of belief and warrant with any substantivenormative content of its own. Indeed, that neither the concept oftruth, nor those of objectivity and of reality, can be invoked toexplain or legitimate our inferential practices and our standards ofwarrant, is the essence of Rorty's conversationalism, orepistemological behaviorism.

3. Pragmatized Culture

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Taking epistemological behaviorism to heart, Rorty urges, means that wecan no longer construe the authority of science in terms of ontologicalclaims. Though many disagree, this is not, for Rorty, to denigrate orweaken the authority of science. Indeed, a prominent feature of Rorty'spost-metaphysical, post-epistemological culture, is a thoroughgoingDarwinian naturalism.

3.1 Naturalism

To be a naturalist in Rorty's sense,

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is to be the kind of antiessentialist who, like Dewey, seesno breaks in the hierarchy of increasingly complex adjustments to novelstimulation—the hierarchy which has amoeba adjusting themselves tochanged water temperature at the bottom, bees dancing and chess playerscheck-mating in the middle, and people fomenting scientific, artistic,and political revolutions at the top. (ORT 109)

In Rorty's view, both Dewey's pragmatism and Darwinism encourage us tosee vocabularies as tools, to be assessed in terms of the particularpurposes they may serve. Our vocabularies, Rorty suggests, 'have nomore of a representational relation to an intrinsic nature ofthings than does the anteater's snout or the bowerbird's skill atweaving.' (TP 48)

Pragmatic evaluation of various linguistically infused practicesrequires a degree of specificity. From Rorty's perspective, to suggestthat we might evaluate vocabularies with respect to their ability touncover the truth, would be like claiming to evaluate tools for theirability to help us get what we want—full stop. Is the hammer or thesaw or the scissors better—in general? Questions about usefulness canonly be answered, Rorty points out, once we give substance to ourpurposes.

Rorty's pragmatist appropriation of Darwin also defuses thesignificance of reduction. He rejects as representationalist the sortof naturalism that implies a program of nomological or conceptualreduction to terms at home in a basic science. Rorty's naturalismechoes Nietzsche's perspectivism; a descriptive vocabulary is usefulinsofar as the patterns it highlights are usefully attended to bycreatures with needs and interests like ours. Darwinian naturalism, forRorty, implies that there is no one privileged vocabulary whose purpose itis to serve as a critical touchstone for our various descriptivepractices.

For Rorty, then, any vocabulary, even that of evolutionaryexplanation, is a tool for a purpose, and therefore subject toteleological assessment. Typically, Rorty justifies his own commitmentto Darwinian naturalism by suggesting that this vocabulary is suited tofurther the secularization and democratization of society that Rortythinks we should aim for. Accordingly, there is a close tie betweenRorty's construal of the naturalism he endorses and his most basicpolitical convictions.

3.2 Liberalism

Rorty is a self-proclaimed romantic bourgeois liberal, a believer inpiecemeal reforms advancing economic justice and increasing thefreedoms that citizens are able to enjoy. The key imperative in Rorty'spolitical agenda is the deepening and widening of solidarity. Rorty issceptical toward radicalism; political thought purporting to uncoverhidden, systematic causes for injustice and exploitation, and on thatbasis proposing sweeping changes to set things right. (ORT Part III;EHO; CIS Part II; AC) The task of the intellectual, with respect tosocial justice, is not to provide refinements of social theory, but tosensitize us to the suffering of others, and refine, deepen and expandour ability to identify with others, to think of others as likeourselves in morally relevant ways. (EHO Part III; CIS Part III)Reformist liberalism with its commitment to the expansion of democraticfreedoms in ever wider political solidarities is, on Rorty's view, anhistorical contingency which has no philosophical foundation, and needsnone. Recognizing the contingency of these values and the vocabulary inwhich they are expressed, while retaining the commitments, is theattitude of the liberal ironist. (CIS essays 3,4) Liberal ironists havethe ability to combine the consciousness of the contingency of theirown evaluative vocabulary with a commitment to reducing suffering—inparticular, with a commitment to combatting cruelty. (CIS essay 4, ORTPart III) They promote their cause through redescriptions, rather thanarguments. The distinction between argumentative discourse andredescription corresponds to that between propositions andvocabularies. Change in belief may result from convincing argument. Achange in what we perceive as interesting truth value candidatesresults from acquiring new vocabularies. Rorty identifies romanticismas the view that the latter sort of change is the more significant one.(CIS 'Introduction', essay 1).

Rorty's romantic version of liberalism is expressed also in thedistinction he draws between the private and the public. (CIS) Thisdistinction is often misinterpreted to imply that certain domains ofinteraction or behaviour should be exempted from evaluation in moral orpolitical or social terms. The distinction Rorty draws, however, haslittle to do with traditional attempts to draw lines of demarcation ofthis sort between a private and a public domain—to determine whichaspects of our lives we do and which we don't have to answer forpublically. Rorty's distinction, rather, goes to the purposes oftheoretical vocabularies. We should, Rorty urges, be 'content to treatthe demands of self-creation and of human solidarity as equally valid,yet forever incommensurable.' (CIS xv) Rorty's view is that we shouldtreat vocabularies for deliberation about public goods and social andpolitical arrangements, on the one hand, and vocabularies developed orcreated in pursuit of personal fulfilment, self-creation, andself-realization, on the other, as distinct tools.

3.3 Ethnocentrism

Rorty's liberal ironist, recognizing—indeed, affirming—thecontingency of her own commitments, is explicitly ethnocentric. (ORT'Solidarity or Objectivity') For the liberal ironist,

…one consequence of antirepresentationalism is therecognition that no description of how things are from a God's-eyepoint of view, no skyhook provided by some contemporary oryet-to-be-developed science, is going to free us from the contingencyof having been acculturated as we were. Our acculturation is whatmakes certain options live, or momentous, or forced, while leavingothers dead, or trivial, or optional. (ORT 13)

So the liberal ironist accepts that bourgeois liberalism has nouniversality other than the transient and unstable one which time,luck, and discursive effort might win for it. This view looks to manyreaders like a version of cultural relativism. True, Rorty does not saythat what is true, what is good, and what is right is relative to someparticular ethnos, and so in that sense he is no relativist. But theworry about relativism, that it leaves us with no rational way toadjudicate conflict, seems to apply equally to Rorty's ethnocentricview. Rorty's answer is to say that in one sense of 'rational' that istrue, but that in another sense it is not, and to recommend that wedrop the former. Rorty's position is that we have no notion of rationalwarrant that exceeds, or transcends, or grounds, the norms that liberalintellectuals take to define thorough, open-minded, reflectivediscussion. It is chimerical, Rorty holds, to think that the force orattractiveness of these norms can be enhanced by argument that does notpresuppose them. It is pointless, equally, to look for ways ofconvicting those who pay them no heed of irrationality. Persuasionacross such fundamental differences is achieved, if at all, by concretecomparisons of particular alternatives, by elaborate description andredescription of the kinds of life to which different practicesconduce.

4. Rorty and Philosophy

The broad scope of Rorty's metaphilosophical deconstruction, togetherwith a penchant for uncashed metaphor and swift, broad-strokehistorical narrative, has gained Rorty a sturdy reputation as ananti-philosopher's philosopher. While his writing enjoys an unusualdegree of popularity beyond the confines of the profession, Rorty'swork is often regarded with suspicion and scepticism within academicphilosophy.

4.1 Critical Responses

As we have seen in connection with Rorty's attitude to science, it isparticularly Rorty's treatment of truth and knowledge that has drawnfire from philosophers. While a great variety of philosophers havecriticized Rorty on this general score in a great variety of ways, itis not very difficult to discern a common concern; Rorty'sconversationalist view of truth and knowledge leaves us entirely unableto account for the notion that a reasonable view of how things are is aview suitably constrained by how the world actually is. This criticismis levelled against Rorty not only from the standpoint of metaphysicaland scientific realist views of the sort that Rorty hopes will soon beextinct. It is expressed also by thinkers who have some sympathy withRorty's historicist view of intellectual progress, and his critique ofKantian and Platonist features of modern philosophy. Frank B. Farrell,for instance, argues that Rorty fails to appreciate Davidson's view onjust this point, and claims that Rorty's conversationalist view ofbelief-constraint is a distorted, worldless, version of Davidson'spicture of how communication between agents occurs. Similarly, JohnMcDowell, while also critical of Davidson's epistemological views,claims that Rorty's view of the relation between agent and world asmerely causal runs foul of the notion that our very concept of acreature with beliefs involves the idea of a rational constraint of theworld on our epistemic states.

However, critics are concerned not only with what they see as amisguided view of belief, truth, and knowledge, whether relativist,subjectivist, or idealist in nature. An important reason for the hightemperature of much of the debate that Rorty has inspired is that heappears to some to reject the very values that are the basis for anyarticulation of a philosophical view of truth and knowledge at all.Rorty is critical of the role of argument in intellectual progress, anddismissive of the very idea of theories of truth, knowledge,rationality, and the like. Philosophers such as Hilary Putnam and SusanHaack have increasingly focussed on this aspect of Rorty's views.Haack, in particular, frames criticism of Rorty along these lines inmoral terms; to her mind, Rorty's efforts to abandon the basic conceptsof traditional epistemology are symptoms of a vulgar cynicism, whichcontributes to the decline of reason and intellectual integrity thatHaack and others find to be characteristic of much contemporarythought. The charge of intellectual irresponsibility is sometimesraised, or at last implied, in connection with Rorty's use ofhistorical figures. Rorty's reading of Descartes and of Kant in PMN haveoften been challenged, as has his more constructive uses of Hegel,Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. The kind of appropriation ofother writers and thinkers that Rorty performs will at times seem to doviolence to the views and intentions of the protagonists. Rorty,however, is quite clear about the rhetorical point and scholarly limitationsof these kinds of redescriptions, as he explains in 'The Historiographyof Philosophy: Four Genres.'

4.2 Claim to Pragmatism

One particularly contentious issue has arisen in connection withRorty's appropriation of earlier philosophers; prominent readers ofthe classical American pragmatists have expressed deep reservationsabout Rorty's interpretation of Dewey and Peirce, in particular, andthe pragmatist movement in general. Consequently, Rorty's entitlementto the label 'pragmatist' has been challenged. For instance SusanHaack's strong claims on this score have received much attention, butthere are many others. (See, for example, the discussions of Rorty inThomas M. Alexander, 1987; Gary Brodsky, 1982; James Campbell, 1984;Abraham Edel, 1985; James Gouinlock, 1995; Lavine 1995; R.W: Sleeper,1986; as well as the essays in Lenore Langdorf and Andrew R. Smith,1995.) For Rorty, the key figure in the American pragmatist movementis John Dewey, to whom he attributes many of his own centraldoctrines. In particular, Rorty finds in Dewey an anticipation of hisown view of philosophy as the hand-maiden of a humanist politics, of anon-ontological view of the virtues of inquiry, of a holisticconception of human intellectual life, and of an anti-essentialist,historicist conception of philosophical thought. To read Dewey hisway, however, Rorty explicitly sets about separating the 'good' fromthe 'bad' Dewey. (See 'Dewey's Metaphysics,' CP, 72-89, and 'Deweybetween Hegel and Darwin', in Saatkamp, 1-15.) He is critical of whathe takes to be Dewey's backsliding into metaphysics in Experienceand Nature, and has no patience for the constructive attempt ofLogic: The Theory of Inquiry. Rorty thus imposes a scheme ofevaluation on Dewey's works which many scholars object to. Lavine, forinstance, claims that 'scientific method' is Dewey's central concept(Lavine 1995, 44). R.W. Sleeper holds that reform rather thanelimination of metaphysics and epistemology is Dewey's aim (Sleeper1986, 2, chapter 6).

Rorty's least favourite pragmatist is Peirce, whom he regards assubject to both scheme-content dualism and to a degree of scientism. Soit is not surprising that Haack, whose own pragmatism draws inspirationfrom Peirce, finds Rorty's recasting of pragmatism literally unworthyof the name. Rorty's key break with the pragmatists is a fundamentalone; to Haack's mind, by situating himself in opposition to theepistemological orientation of modern philosophy, Rorty ends updismissing the very project that gave direction to the works of theAmerican pragmatists. While classical pragmatism is an attempt tounderstand and work out a novel legitimating framework for scientificinquiry, Haack maintains, Rorty's 'pragmatism' (Haack consistently usesquotes) is simply an abandonment of the very attempt to learn moreabout the nature and adequacy conditions of inquiry. Instead of aidingus in our aspiration to govern ourselves through rational thought,Rorty weakens our intellectual resilience and leaves us even morevulnerable to rhetorical seduction. To Haack and her sympathisers,Rorty's pragmatism is dangerous, performing an end-run on reason, andtherefore on philosophy.

4.3 Analytic Philosophy

Nevertheless, the founding impulses of Western philosophy clearlyexpress themselves in Rorty's fundamental concern with the connectionbetween philosophical thinking and the pursuit of human happiness.Rorty's relationship to the traditions of Western philosophy is morenuanced than his reputation might suggest. So, too, is Rorty's relationto analytical philosophy in particular. Rorty is sometimes portrayed asa renegade, as someone who went through a transformation from bona fideanalytical philosopher to something else, and then lived to tell a taleof liberation from youthful enchantment. This portrayal, however,distorts both Rorty's view of analytical philosophy and the trajectoryof his thinking.

In the mid nineteen sixties, Rorty gained attention for hisarticulation of eliminative materialism (cf., 'Mind-Body Identity,Privacy and Categories,' 1965). Around that time, he also edited, andwrote a lengthy introduction to, a volume entitled The LinguisticTurn (1967, reissued with a new introduction in 1992). Though theintroduction to the 1967 volume and the early papers in philosophy ofmind show Rorty adopting frameworks for philosophical problems he hassince dispensed with, these writings at the same time clearly bear themark of the fundamental metaphilosophical attitude which becomesexplicit in the next decade. In the 'Preface' to PMN, referring toHartshorne, McKeon, Carnap, Robert Brumbaugh, Carl Hempel, and PaulWeiss, Rorty says,

I was very fortunate in having these men as my teachers,but, for better or worse, I treated them all as saying the same thing:that a 'philosophical problem' was a product of the unconsciousadoption of a set of assumptions built into the vocabulary in which theproblem was stated—assumptions which were to be questioned before theproblem itself was taken seriously. (PMN xiii)

This way of stating the lesson, however, appears to leave open thepossibility that certain philosophical problems eventually maylegitimately be taken seriously—that is, at face value in the sensethat they require constructive solutions—provided the assumptionswhich sustain their formulation stand up to proper critical scrutiny.Taken this way, the attitude Rorty here expresses would be more or lessthe same as that of all those philosophers who have diagnosed theirpredecessors' work as mixtures of pseudo-questions and genuine problemsdimly glimpsed, problems which now, with the proper frame ofquestioning fully clarified, may be productively addressed. But thefull force of the lesson Rorty learned emerges only with the view thatthis notion of proper critical scrutiny is illusory. For Rorty, tolegitimate the assumptions on which a philosophical problem is based,would be to establish that the terms we require to pose it aremandatory, that the vocabulary in which we encounter it is in principleinescapable. But Rorty's construal of the linguistic turn, as well ashis proposals for eliminating the vocabulary of the mental, are reallyat odds with the idea that we might hope to construct a definitivevocabulary for philosophy. Even in his early days, Rorty's approach tophilosophy is shaped by the historicist conviction that no vocabulariesare inescapable in principle. This means that progress in philosophy isgained less from constructive solutions to problems than throughtherapeutic dissolution of their causes, that is, through the inventionof new vocabularies by the launch of new and fruitful metaphors. (PMN'Introduction'; ORT 'Unfamiliar Noises: Hesse and Davidson onMetaphor')

To hold that no vocabulary is final is also to hold that novocabulary can be free of unthematized yet optional assumptions. Henceany effort to circumvent a philosophical problem by making suchassumptions visible is subject to its own circumvention. Accordingly,the fact that Rorty often distances himself from the terms in which heearlier framed arguments and made diagnoses is in itself no reason toimpose on him, as some have done, a temporal dichotomy. It may be thatRorty's early work, inspired by a less critical, less dialecticalreading of Quine and Sellars than that offered in PMN, is moreconstructive than therapeutic in tone and jargon, and therefore fromRorty's later perspective in an important sense misguided. However,what ties together all Rorty's work, over time and across themes, ishis complete lack of faith in the idea that there is an idealvocabulary, one which contains all genuine discursive options. Rortydesignates this faith Platonism (an important theme in CIS). That thereare no inescapable forms of description is a thought which permeatesRorty's work from the 1960s right through his later therapeuticarticulations of pragmatism. These characterizations of pragmatism interms of anti-foundationalism (PMN), of anti-representationalism (ORT),of anti-essentialism (TP) are explicitly parasitic on constructiveefforts in epistemology and metaphysics, and are intended to high-lightthe various ways that these efforts remain under the spell of aPlatonic faith in ideal concepts and mandatory forms ofdescriptions.

Rorty's use of Quine and Sellars to make his fundamental pointsagainst the idea of philosophy as a knowledge legitimation project, aswell as his articulation of his critique in terms of typically'analytical' philosophical problems, has contributed to an impressionof PMN as an internal indictment of analytic philosophy as such.Many—some gleeful, some chagrined—have read PMN as a purporteddemonstration of the bankruptcy of one of the two contemporary mainstreams of Western philosophy. Such readers draw support for this viewalso from the fact that much of Rorty's writings since PMN has beenconcerned to show the virtues in thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida.(EHO) Twenty years later, however, it seems better not to superimposethe analytic-continental divide onto the message of PMN, or on Rorty.In PMN, his central point is that philosophy needs to break free fromthe metaphor of mind as a medium of appearances, appearances thatphilosophy must help us sort into the mere and thereality-corresponding ones. Rorty made this point in a vocabulary thatwas developed by Anglo-American (whether by birth, naturalization, orlate adoption) philosophers in the course of the precedinghalf-century. It is not necessary, and probably misleading, to seeRorty's criticism of epistemology and the assumptions that make itappear worthwhile as a criticism of a particular philosophical style ofphilosophy or set of methodological habits. Reading PMN in conjunctionwith the essays in CP (see particularly essay 4, 'ProfessionalizedPhilosophy and Transcendentalist Culture', essay 12, 'Philosophy inAmerica Today', and also 'Introduction'), one quickly sees that thetarget of PMN cannot be a putative school or branch of the subjectcalled 'Analytic Philosophy'. Because Rorty thinks philosophy has noessence, has no defining historical task, fails to mark out a specialdomain of knowledge, and is not, in short, a natural kind (CP 226), heleaves no ground from which to level that sort of critique. Nor is ithis intention to do so. Around the time of the publication of PMN,Rorty's view of the matter was ‘that 'analytic philosophy' nowhas only a stylistic and sociological unity’ (CP 217). He thenqualifies this point as follows: 'In saying….[this], I am notsuggesting that analytic philosophy is a bad thing, or is in bad shape.The analytic style is, I think, a good style. The espritde corps among analytic philosophers is healthy and useful.' (CP217) However, while Rorty apparently bears no prejudice againstanalytic philosophy in particular, the very reason for histolerance—his antiessentialist, historicist view of philosophy and itsproblems—has for many critics been a point of objection. After hisfaint praise, Rorty goes on:

All I am saying is that analytic philosophy has become,whether it likes it or not, the same sort of discipline as we find inthe other 'humanities' departments—departments where pretensions to'rigor' and to 'scientific' status are less evident. The normal form oflife in the humanities is the same as that in the arts and inbelles-lettres; a genius does something new and interesting andpersuasive, and his or her admirers begin to form a school or movement.(CP 217-218)

This is perfectly consonant with the attitude to the notion ofphilosophical method Rorty expresses 20 years later: 'So-calledmethods are simply descriptions of the activities engaged in by theenthusiastic imitators of one or another original mind—what Kuhnwould call the 'research programs' to which their works gave rise.'(TP 10) Rorty's metaphilosophical critique, then, is directed not atparticular techniques or styles or vocabularies, but toward the ideathat philosophical problems are anything other than transient tensionsin the dynamics of evolving, contingent vocabularies. If his critiquehas bite specifically against analytic philosophy, this may be becauseof a lingering faith in philosophical problems as lasting intellectualchallenges that any honest thinker has to acknowledge, and which maybe met by making progress in methodology. Rorty himself, however,nowhere says that this faith is part of the essence of analyticalphilosophy. On the contrary, it would seem that analyticalphilosophers, people like Sellars, Quine, and Davidson, have providedRorty with indispensable critical tools in his attack on theepistemological legitimation-project which has been a central concernin philosophy since Descartes.

Bibliography

Works by Rorty

Abbreviations

[PMN]Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979.
[CP]Consequences of Pragmatism. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 1982.
[CIS]Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
[ORT]Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers,Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
[EHO]Essays on Heidegger and Others: PhilosophicalPapers, Volume 2. [EHO] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1991.
[TP]Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
[AC]Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought inTwentieth Century America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress,1998.
[PSH]Philosophy and Social Hope. Penguin, 2000.
[PCP]Philosophy as Cultural Politics. Cambridge,UK, 2007.

Other Works by Rorty

  • 'Pragmatism, Categories and Language.' PhilosophicalReview 70, April 1961.
  • 'The Limits of Reductionism.' In Experience, Existence and theGood, ed. Irwin C. Lieb, Southern Illinois University Press,1961.
  • 'Empiricism, Extensionalism and Reductionalism.' Mind 72,April 1963.
  • 'Mind-Body Identity, Privacy, and Categories.' Review ofMetaphysics 19, September 1965.
  • (ed.), The Linguistic Turn. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1967. Second, enlarged, edition l992.
  • 'Incorrigibility as the Mark of the Mental.' Journal ofPhilosophy 67, June 1970.
  • 'In Defence of Eliminative Materialism.' Review ofMetaphysics 24, September 1970.
  • 'Verificationism and Transcendental Arguments.' Nous 5,Fall 1971.
  • 'Indeterminacy of Translation and of Truth.' Synthese 23,1972.
  • 'Criteria and Necessity.' Nous 7, November 1973.
  • with Edward Lee and Alexander Mourelatos, (eds.), Exegesis andArgument: Essays in Greek Philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos.Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1973.
  • 'Transcendental Arguments, Self-Reference and Pragmatism.' InTranscendental Arguments and Science, ed. Peter Bieri, Rolf P.Hortsman, and Lorentz Kruger. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1979.
  • 'Contemporary Philosophy of Mind.' Synthese 53, November1982.
  • 'The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres.' In Richard Rorty,J. B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner, editors, Philosophy inHistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • 'Beyond Realism and Anti-Realism.' In Wo steht die AnalytischePhilosophie heute? ed. Ludwig Nagl and Richard Heinrich. Vienna:R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich, 1986.
  • Hoffnung statt Erkenntnis: Einleitung in die pragmatischePhilosophie. Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 1994. [This volume containsthree lectures delivered in Vienna and Paris in 1993, and not publishedin English. The French version appeared as L'Espoir au lieu desavoir: introduction au pragmatisme, Paris: Albin Michel,1995.
  • 'Responses.' In Rorty and Pragmatism: The Philosopher Respondsto his Critics, ed. Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr.. Nashville and London:Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • 'Responses.' In Debating the State of Philosophy: Habermas,Rorty and Kolakowski, eds. Jozef Niznik and John T. Sanders.Westport: Praeger Publishers, 1996.
  • 'Responses.' In Deconstruction and Pragmatism, ed. ChantalMouffe. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • 'Introduction.' In Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,by Wilfrid Sellars. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard UniversityPress, 1997.
  • Truth, Politics and ‘Post-Modernism.’ The 1997Spinoza Lectures. Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1997.
  • 'Responses.' In Richard Rorty: The Philosopher Meets HisCritics, ed. Robert Brandom. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell,2000.

Secondary Literature

  • Alexander, Thomas M., John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience,and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling. Albany: State University ofNew York Press, 1987.
  • Brodsky, Gary, 'Rorty's Interpretation of Pragmatism.'Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 17, 1982.
  • Brandom, Robert, ed., Rorty and His Critics. Oxford andCambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000.
  • Campbell, James, 'Rorty's Use of Dewey.' Southern Journal ofPhilosophy, 22, 1984.
  • Davidson, Donald, Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation.Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  • Davidson, Donald, 'The Structure and Content of Truth.' Journalof Philosophy 87, June 1990.
  • Dewey, John, Experience and Nature. In Later Works ofJohn Dewey, Vol. 1, Jo Ann Boydston, ed.. Carbondale: SouthernIllinois University Press, 1981.
  • Dewey, John, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. In LaterWorks of John Dewey, Vol. 12, Jo Ann Boydston, ed.. Carbondale:Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.
  • Edel, Abraham, 'A Missing Dimension in Rorty's Use of Pragmatism.'Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society. 21, 1985.
  • Farrell, Frank B., Subjectivity, Realism and Postmodernism: TheRecovery of the World in Recent Philosophy. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1994.
  • Gouinlock, James, 'What is the Legacy of Instrumentalism? Rorty'sInterpretation of Dewey.' In Herman J. Saatkamp, ed., Rorty andPragmatism. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • Haack, Susan, Evidence and Enquiry: Towards Reconstruction inEpistemology.. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993.
  • Haack, Susan, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate. Chicagoand London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • Hall, David L., Richard Rorty: Poet and Prophet of the NewPragmatism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press,1994.
  • Kolenda, Konstantin, Rorty's Humanistic Pragmatism: PhilosophyDemocratized. Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1990.
  • Kulp, Christopher B., ed., Realism/Antirealism andEpistemology. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.,1997.
  • Langsdorf, Lenore and Smith, Andrew R., eds., RecoveringPragmatism's Voice: The Classical Tradition, Rorty, and the Philosophyof Communication. Albany: State University of New York Press,1995.
  • Lavine, Thelma Z.,'America & the Contestations of Modernity:Bentley, Dewey, Rorty.' In Herman J. Saatkamp, ed., Rorty andPragmatism. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • McDowell, John, Mind and World. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press, 1994.
  • Malachowsky, Alan R., ed., Reading Rorty. Oxford andCambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991.
  • Malachowsky, Alan R., Richard Rorty. Princeton UniversityPress, 2002.
  • Mouffe, Chantal, ed., Deconstruction and Pragmatism.London and New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • Niznik, Jozef and Sanders, John T., eds., Debating the State ofPhilosophy: Habermas, Rorty and Kolakowski. Westport: PraegerPublishers, 1996.
  • Nystrom, Derek and Puckett, Kent, Against Bosses, AgainstOligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty. Charlottesville,VA: Prickly Pear Pamphlets (North America), 1998.
  • Peters, Michael and Ghiraldelli, Paulo, eds., Richard Rorty:Education, Philosophy, Politics. Lanham, MD: Rowman andLittlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002.
  • Pettegrew, John, ed., A Pragmatist's Progress? Richard Rortyand American Intellectual History. Lanham, MD: Rowman andLittlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002.
  • Prado, C.G., The Limits of Pragmatism. Atlantic Highlands,NJ: Humanities Press, 1987.
  • Quine, Willard Van Orman, 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism.' In From aLogical Point of View. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1953.
  • Saatkamp, Herman J., ed., Rorty and Pragmatism. Nashville,TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • Sleeper, R.W., The Necessity of Pragmatism. New Haven andLondon: Yale University Press, 1986.

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Davidson, Donald | Dewey, John | liberalism | naturalism | postmodernism | pragmatism | Sellars, Wilfrid

Copyright © 2007 by
Bjørn Ramberg<[email protected]>

First published Sat Feb 3, 2001; substantive revision Sat Jun 16, 2007

Richard Rorty (1931–2007) developed a distinctive andcontroversial brand of pragmatism that expressed itself along two mainaxes. One is negative—a critical diagnosis of what Rorty takesto be defining projects of modern philosophy. The other ispositive—an attempt to show what intellectual culture might looklike, once we free ourselves from the governing metaphors of mind andknowledge in which the traditional problems of epistemology andmetaphysics (and indeed, in Rorty's view, the self-conception ofmodern philosophy) are rooted. The centerpiece of Rorty's critique isthe provocative account offered in Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature (1979, hereafter PMN). In this book, and in the closelyrelated essays collected in Consequences of Pragmatism (1982,hereafter CP), Rorty's principal target is the philosophical idea ofknowledge as representation, as a mental mirroring of a mind-externalworld. Providing a contrasting image of philosophy, Rorty has soughtto integrate and apply the milestone achievements of Dewey, Hegel andDarwin in a pragmatist synthesis of historicism and naturalism.Characterizations and illustrations of a post-epistemologicalintellectual culture, present in both PMN (part III) and CP(xxxvii-xliv), are more richly developed in later works, such asContingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989, hereafter CIS), inthe popular essays and articles collected in Philosophy and SocialHope (1999), and in the four volumes of philosophical papers,Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991, hereafter ORT);Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991, hereafter EHO);Truth and Progress (1998, hereafter TP); and Philosophyas Cultural Politics (2007, hereafter PCP). In these writings,ranging over an unusually wide intellectual territory, Rorty offers ahighly integrated, multifaceted view of thought, culture, andpolitics, a view that has made him one of the most widely discussedphilosophers in our time.

1. Biographical Sketch

Richard Rorty was born on October 4th, 1931, in New York City. He grewup, as he recounts in Achieving Our Country (1998, hereafterAC), 'on the anti-communist reformist Left in mid-century' (AC 59),within a circle combining anti-Stalinism with leftist social activism.'In that circle,' Rorty tells us, 'American patriotism,redistributionist economics, anticommunism, and Deweyan pragmatism wenttogether easily and naturally.' (AC 61) In 1946 Rorty went to theUniversity of Chicago, to a philosophy department which at that timeincluded Rudolph Carnap, Charles Hartshorne, and Richard McKeon, all ofwhom were Rorty's teachers. After receiving his BA in 1949, Rortystayed on at Chicago to complete an M.A. (1952) with a thesis onWhitehead supervised by Hartshorne. From 1952 to 1956 Rorty was atYale, where he wrote a dissertation entitled 'The Concept ofPotentiality.' His supervisor was Paul Weiss. After the completion ofhis Ph.D., followed by two years in the army, Rorty received his firstacademic appointment, at Wellesley College. In 1961, after three yearsat Wellesley, Rorty moved to Princeton University where he stayed untilhe went to the University of Virginia, in 1982, as Kenan Professor ofthe Humanities. Rorty left the University of Virginia in 1998,accepting an appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature atStanford University. In the course of his career, Rorty receivedseveral academic awards and honours, including a Guggenheim Fellowship(1973-74) and a MacArthur Fellowship (1981-1986). He held a numberof prestigious lectureships, giving, among others, the NorthcliffeLectures at University College, London (1986), the Clark Lectures atTrinity College, Cambridge (1987), and the Massey Lectures at Harvard(1997). Rorty died June 8, 2007.

2. Against Epistemology

On Rorty's account, modern epistemology is not only an attempt tolegitimate our claim to knowledge of what is real, but also an attemptto legitimate philosophical reflection itself—a pressing task,on many accounts, once the advent of the so-called newscience of the sixteenth and seventeenth century gradually gavecontent to a notion of knowledge obtained by the methodologicalinterrogation of nature herself. Because the result of this kind ofinterrogation, theoretical empirical knowledge, is so obviouslyfruitful, and also carries with it seemingly uncontentious norms ofprogress, its mere presence poses a legitimation challenge to a formof thought, and claim to knowledge, that is distinct fromit. Cartesian epistemology, in Rorty's picture, is designed to meetthis challenge. It is sceptical in a fundamental way; sceptical doubtsof a Cartesian sort, that is, doubts that can be raised about any setof empirical claims whatever, and so cannot be alleviated byexperience, are tailor-made to preserve at once a domain and a job forphilosophical reflection. Rorty's aim in PMN is to undermine theassumptions in light of which this double legitimation project makessense.

2.1 Epistemological Behaviorism

That any vocabulary is optional and mutable is the basic convictionbehind Rorty's attack on representationalist epistemology carried outin PMN. It informs, for instance, the genealogy (chapter one) anddeconstruction (chapter two) of the concept of mind offered in thebook's first part, 'Our Glassy Essence.' This historicist conviction,however, is not itself a central theme of PMN, and it emerges forexplicit discussion only in the final section of the book,'Philosophy,' which is the shortest and in some ways least developed ofits three parts. The argumentative core of PMN is found in its secondpart, 'Mirroring'. Here Rorty develops and extends a diverse lot ofarguments—notably from Wilfrid Sellars, Willard van Orman Quine,Thomas Kuhn, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Donald Davidson—into a generalcritique of the defining project of modern epistemology, viz. theconceptions of mind, of knowledge and of philosophy bequeathed by the17th and 18th centuries. Rorty's key claim isthat 'the Kantian picture of concepts and intuitions getting togetherto produce knowledge is needed to give sense to the idea of‘theory of knowledge’ as a specifically philosophicaldiscipline, distinct from psychology.' (PMN 168). According to Rorty,

This is equivalent to saying that if we do not have thedistinction between what is 'given' and what is 'added by the mind,' orthat between the 'contingent' (because influenced by what is given) andthe necessary (because entirely 'within' the mind and under itscontrol), then we will not know what would count as a 'rationalreconstruction' of our knowledge. We will not know what epistemology'sgoal or method could be. (PMN 168-9)

Epistemology, in Rorty's account, is wedded to a picture of mind'sstructure working on empirical content to produce in itselfitems—thoughts, representations—which, when things gowell, correctly mirror reality. To loosen the grip of this picture onour thinking is to challenge the idea that epistemology—whethertraditional Cartesian or 20th century linguistic—is the essenceof philosophy. To this end, Rorty combines a reading of Quine's attackon a version of the structure-content distinction in 'Two Dogmas ofEmpiricism' (1952), with a reading of Sellars' attack on the idea ofgivenness in 'Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind' (1956/1997). OnRorty's reading, though neither Sellars nor Quine is able fully totake in the liberating influence of the other, they are reallyattacking the same distinction, or set of distinctions. While Quinecasts doubt on the notion of structure or meaning whichlinguistically-turned epistemology had instated in place of mentalentities, Sellars, questioning the very idea of givenness, came at thedistinction from the other side:

…Sellars and Quine invoke the same argument, onewhich bears equally against the given-versus-nongiven and thenecessary-versus-contingent distinctions. The crucial premise of thisargument is that we understand knowledge when we understand the socialjustification of belief, and thus have no need to view it as accuracyof representation. (PMN 170)

The upshot of Quine's and Sellars' criticisms of the myths and dogmasof epistemology is, Rorty suggests, that 'we see knowledge as a matterof conversation and of social practice, rather than as an attempt tomirror nature.' (PMN 171) Rorty provides this view with a label:'Explaining rationality and epistemic authority by reference to whatsociety lets us say, rather than the latter by the former, is theessence of what I shall call ‘epistemologicalbehaviorism,’ an attitude common to Dewey and Wittgenstein.'(PMN 174)

Epistemological behaviorism leaves no room for the kind ofpractice-transcending legitimation that Rorty identifies as thedefining aspiration of modern epistemology. Assuming that epistemicpractices do, or at least can, diverge, it is not surprising thatRorty's commitment to epistemological behaviorism should lead tocharges of relativism or subjectivism. Indeed, many who share Rorty'shistoricist scepticism toward the transcending ambitions ofepistemology—friendly critics like Hilary Putnam, John McDowelland Daniel Dennett—balk at the idea that there are noconstraints on knowledge save conversational ones. Yet this is acentral part of Rorty's position, repeated and elaborated as recentlyas in TP and PCP. Indeed, in TP he invokes it precisely in order todeflect this sort of criticism. In 'Hilary Putnam and the RelativistMenace,' Rorty says:

In short, my strategy for escaping the self-referentialdifficulties into which 'the Relativist' keeps getting himself is tomove everything over from epistemology and metaphysics into culturalpolitics, from claims to knowledge and appeals to self-evidence tosuggestions about what we should try. (TP 57)

That epistemological behaviorism differs from traditional forms ofrelativism and subjectivism is easier to see in light of Rorty'scriticism of the notion of representation, and the cluster ofphilosophical images which surround it.

2.2 Antirepresentationalism

Rorty's enduring attitude to relativism and subjectivism is that bothare products of the representationalist paradigm. Though the theme isexplicit in PM and CP ('Pragmatism, Relativism, Irrationalism'), it iswith Rorty's later and further appropriation of Davidson that hiscriticism of the idea of knowledge as representation becomes fullyelaborated (ORT 'Introduction' and Part II). Drawing on Davidson'scriticism of the scheme-content distinction ('On the Very Idea of aConceptual Scheme') and of the correspondence theory of truth ('TheStructure and Content of Truth'), Rorty is able to back up hisrejection of any philosophical position or project which attempts todraw a general line between what is made and what is found, what issubjective and what is objective, what is mere appearance and what isreal. Rorty's position is not that these conceptual contrasts neverhave application, but that such application is always context andinterest bound and that there is, as in the case of the related notionof truth, nothing to be said about them in general. Rorty's commitmentto the conversationalist view of knowledge must therefore bedistinguished from subjectivism or relativism, which, Rorty argues,presuppose the very distinctions he seeks to reject. Equally, Rorty'sepistemological behaviorism must not be confused with an idealism thatasserts a primacy of thought or language with respect to the unmediatedworld, since this, too, is a position that is undercut by Rorty'sDavidsonian position. In light of the view of truth and of meaning thatRorty appropriates from Davidson, his conversationalism is not a matterof giving priority to the subjective over the objective, or to mind'spower over world's constraint. Rather it is the other side of hisanti-representationalism, which denies that we are related to the worldin anything other than causal terms. Differently put, Rorty arguesthat we can give no useful content to the notion that the world, by itsvery nature, rationally constrains choices of vocabulary with which tocope with it. (TP 'The Very Idea of Human Answerability to the World:John McDowell's Version of Empiricism').

2.3 Rationality, Science, and Truth

Attacking the idea that we must acknowledge the world's normativeconstraint on our belief-systems if we are to be rational subjects,Rorty has drawn a great deal of criticism that takes science,particularly natural science, as its chief reference point. Two generalkinds of criticisms are often raised. The first insists that scienceconsists precisely in the effort to learn the truth about how thingsare by methodically allowing us to be constrained in our beliefs by theworld. On this view, Rorty is simply denying the very idea of science.The other kind of criticism seeks to be internal: if Rorty's view ofscience were to prevail, scientists would no longer be motivated tocarry on as they are; science would cease to be the useful sort ofthing that Rorty also thinks it is (see, eg., Bernard Williams, 'Autoda Fe' in Malachowski). However, Rorty's view of science is morecomplicated than he himself sometimes implies. He says: 'I tend to viewnatural science as in the business of controlling and predictingthings, and as largely useless for philosophical purposes.' ('Reply toHartshorne,' Saatkamp 32) Yet he spends a good deal of time drawing analternative picture of the intellectual virtues that good scienceembodies (ORT Part I). This is a picture which eschews the notion thatscience succeeds, when it does, in virtue of being in touch withreality in a special way, the sort of way that epistemologists, whensuccessful, can clarify. It is in this sense specifically that Rortydisavows science as philosophically significant. Good science maynevertheless be a model of rationality, in Rorty's view, exactly in sofar as scientific practice has succeeded in establishing institutionsconducive to democratic exchange of view.

The provocative and counterintuitive force of Rorty's treatment ofrationality and science in terms of conversational ethics isundeniable. It is important to realize, though, that Rorty is notdenying that there is any bona fide use of notions like truth,knowledge, or objectivity. Rather his point is that our ordinary usesof these notions always trade for their content and point on particularfeatures of their varying contexts of application. His further point isthat when we abstract away from these different contexts and practices,in search of general notions, we are left with pure abstracthypostatizations incapable of providing us with any guide to action atall. The upshot, Rorty holds, is that we simply do not have a conceptof objective reality which can be invoked either to explain the successof some set of norms of warrant, or to justify some set of standardsover against others. This is perhaps clearest in Rorty's treatment ofthe concept of truth. With regard to truth, Rorty's rhetoric andphilosophical strategy has indeed shifted over the last three decades.As late as in 1982 (in CP) he still attempted to articulate his view oftruth by drawing on William James's famous definition in terms of whatis good in the way of belief. Soon after this, however, Rorty comes todoubt the point of any theory of truth, and, following Davidson's leadexplicitly rejects all attempts to explicate the notion of truth interms of other concepts. Rorty's mature view of the point andsignificance of the concept of truth is first elaborated in 'Davidson,Pragmatism and Truth,' in ORT. Recent expressions are found in thefirst of the two Spinoza Lectures given at the University of Amsterdamin 1997, 'Is it Desirable to Love truth?', in the paper, 'Is Truth aGoal of Inquiry? Donald Davidson versus Crispin Wright' (TP), as wellas in the introductions to, respectively, TP and PSH. In these writingsRorty argues that while 'truth' has various important uses, it does notitself name a goal towards which we can strive, over and above warrantor justification. His argument is not that truth is reducible towarrant, but that the concept has no deep or substantive criterialcontent at all. That is, there are only semantic explanations to beoffered for why it is the case that a given sentence is true just whenits truth conditions are satisfied. So aiming for truth, as opposed towarrant, does not point to a possible line of action, just as we haveno measure of our approximation to truth other than increasing warrant.Indeed, for Rorty, this is part of what makes the concept so useful, ina manner not coincidentally analogous with goodness; it ensures that nosentence can ever be analytically certified as true by virtue of itspossession of some other property. Rorty's attitude to the concept oftruth has been much criticized, often on the grounds that the verynotion of warrant, indeed the concept of belief in general, presupposesthe notion of truth. However, it may be that we can do justice to theseconnections without supposing that the notion of truth thus involvedbacks up the notions of belief and warrant with any substantivenormative content of its own. Indeed, that neither the concept oftruth, nor those of objectivity and of reality, can be invoked toexplain or legitimate our inferential practices and our standards ofwarrant, is the essence of Rorty's conversationalism, orepistemological behaviorism.

3. Pragmatized Culture

Taking epistemological behaviorism to heart, Rorty urges, means that wecan no longer construe the authority of science in terms of ontologicalclaims. Though many disagree, this is not, for Rorty, to denigrate orweaken the authority of science. Indeed, a prominent feature of Rorty'spost-metaphysical, post-epistemological culture, is a thoroughgoingDarwinian naturalism.

3.1 Naturalism

To be a naturalist in Rorty's sense,

is to be the kind of antiessentialist who, like Dewey, seesno breaks in the hierarchy of increasingly complex adjustments to novelstimulation—the hierarchy which has amoeba adjusting themselves tochanged water temperature at the bottom, bees dancing and chess playerscheck-mating in the middle, and people fomenting scientific, artistic,and political revolutions at the top. (ORT 109)

In Rorty's view, both Dewey's pragmatism and Darwinism encourage us tosee vocabularies as tools, to be assessed in terms of the particularpurposes they may serve. Our vocabularies, Rorty suggests, 'have nomore of a representational relation to an intrinsic nature ofthings than does the anteater's snout or the bowerbird's skill atweaving.' (TP 48)

Pragmatic evaluation of various linguistically infused practicesrequires a degree of specificity. From Rorty's perspective, to suggestthat we might evaluate vocabularies with respect to their ability touncover the truth, would be like claiming to evaluate tools for theirability to help us get what we want—full stop. Is the hammer or thesaw or the scissors better—in general? Questions about usefulness canonly be answered, Rorty points out, once we give substance to ourpurposes.

Rorty's pragmatist appropriation of Darwin also defuses thesignificance of reduction. He rejects as representationalist the sortof naturalism that implies a program of nomological or conceptualreduction to terms at home in a basic science. Rorty's naturalismechoes Nietzsche's perspectivism; a descriptive vocabulary is usefulinsofar as the patterns it highlights are usefully attended to bycreatures with needs and interests like ours. Darwinian naturalism, forRorty, implies that there is no one privileged vocabulary whose purpose itis to serve as a critical touchstone for our various descriptivepractices.

For Rorty, then, any vocabulary, even that of evolutionaryexplanation, is a tool for a purpose, and therefore subject toteleological assessment. Typically, Rorty justifies his own commitmentto Darwinian naturalism by suggesting that this vocabulary is suited tofurther the secularization and democratization of society that Rortythinks we should aim for. Accordingly, there is a close tie betweenRorty's construal of the naturalism he endorses and his most basicpolitical convictions.

3.2 Liberalism

Rorty is a self-proclaimed romantic bourgeois liberal, a believer inpiecemeal reforms advancing economic justice and increasing thefreedoms that citizens are able to enjoy. The key imperative in Rorty'spolitical agenda is the deepening and widening of solidarity. Rorty issceptical toward radicalism; political thought purporting to uncoverhidden, systematic causes for injustice and exploitation, and on thatbasis proposing sweeping changes to set things right. (ORT Part III;EHO; CIS Part II; AC) The task of the intellectual, with respect tosocial justice, is not to provide refinements of social theory, but tosensitize us to the suffering of others, and refine, deepen and expandour ability to identify with others, to think of others as likeourselves in morally relevant ways. (EHO Part III; CIS Part III)Reformist liberalism with its commitment to the expansion of democraticfreedoms in ever wider political solidarities is, on Rorty's view, anhistorical contingency which has no philosophical foundation, and needsnone. Recognizing the contingency of these values and the vocabulary inwhich they are expressed, while retaining the commitments, is theattitude of the liberal ironist. (CIS essays 3,4) Liberal ironists havethe ability to combine the consciousness of the contingency of theirown evaluative vocabulary with a commitment to reducing suffering—inparticular, with a commitment to combatting cruelty. (CIS essay 4, ORTPart III) They promote their cause through redescriptions, rather thanarguments. The distinction between argumentative discourse andredescription corresponds to that between propositions andvocabularies. Change in belief may result from convincing argument. Achange in what we perceive as interesting truth value candidatesresults from acquiring new vocabularies. Rorty identifies romanticismas the view that the latter sort of change is the more significant one.(CIS 'Introduction', essay 1).

Rorty's romantic version of liberalism is expressed also in thedistinction he draws between the private and the public. (CIS) Thisdistinction is often misinterpreted to imply that certain domains ofinteraction or behaviour should be exempted from evaluation in moral orpolitical or social terms. The distinction Rorty draws, however, haslittle to do with traditional attempts to draw lines of demarcation ofthis sort between a private and a public domain—to determine whichaspects of our lives we do and which we don't have to answer forpublically. Rorty's distinction, rather, goes to the purposes oftheoretical vocabularies. We should, Rorty urges, be 'content to treatthe demands of self-creation and of human solidarity as equally valid,yet forever incommensurable.' (CIS xv) Rorty's view is that we shouldtreat vocabularies for deliberation about public goods and social andpolitical arrangements, on the one hand, and vocabularies developed orcreated in pursuit of personal fulfilment, self-creation, andself-realization, on the other, as distinct tools.

3.3 Ethnocentrism

Rorty's liberal ironist, recognizing—indeed, affirming—thecontingency of her own commitments, is explicitly ethnocentric. (ORT'Solidarity or Objectivity') For the liberal ironist,

…one consequence of antirepresentationalism is therecognition that no description of how things are from a God's-eyepoint of view, no skyhook provided by some contemporary oryet-to-be-developed science, is going to free us from the contingencyof having been acculturated as we were. Our acculturation is whatmakes certain options live, or momentous, or forced, while leavingothers dead, or trivial, or optional. (ORT 13)

So the liberal ironist accepts that bourgeois liberalism has nouniversality other than the transient and unstable one which time,luck, and discursive effort might win for it. This view looks to manyreaders like a version of cultural relativism. True, Rorty does not saythat what is true, what is good, and what is right is relative to someparticular ethnos, and so in that sense he is no relativist. But theworry about relativism, that it leaves us with no rational way toadjudicate conflict, seems to apply equally to Rorty's ethnocentricview. Rorty's answer is to say that in one sense of 'rational' that istrue, but that in another sense it is not, and to recommend that wedrop the former. Rorty's position is that we have no notion of rationalwarrant that exceeds, or transcends, or grounds, the norms that liberalintellectuals take to define thorough, open-minded, reflectivediscussion. It is chimerical, Rorty holds, to think that the force orattractiveness of these norms can be enhanced by argument that does notpresuppose them. It is pointless, equally, to look for ways ofconvicting those who pay them no heed of irrationality. Persuasionacross such fundamental differences is achieved, if at all, by concretecomparisons of particular alternatives, by elaborate description andredescription of the kinds of life to which different practicesconduce.

4. Rorty and Philosophy

The broad scope of Rorty's metaphilosophical deconstruction, togetherwith a penchant for uncashed metaphor and swift, broad-strokehistorical narrative, has gained Rorty a sturdy reputation as ananti-philosopher's philosopher. While his writing enjoys an unusualdegree of popularity beyond the confines of the profession, Rorty'swork is often regarded with suspicion and scepticism within academicphilosophy.

4.1 Critical Responses

As we have seen in connection with Rorty's attitude to science, it isparticularly Rorty's treatment of truth and knowledge that has drawnfire from philosophers. While a great variety of philosophers havecriticized Rorty on this general score in a great variety of ways, itis not very difficult to discern a common concern; Rorty'sconversationalist view of truth and knowledge leaves us entirely unableto account for the notion that a reasonable view of how things are is aview suitably constrained by how the world actually is. This criticismis levelled against Rorty not only from the standpoint of metaphysicaland scientific realist views of the sort that Rorty hopes will soon beextinct. It is expressed also by thinkers who have some sympathy withRorty's historicist view of intellectual progress, and his critique ofKantian and Platonist features of modern philosophy. Frank B. Farrell,for instance, argues that Rorty fails to appreciate Davidson's view onjust this point, and claims that Rorty's conversationalist view ofbelief-constraint is a distorted, worldless, version of Davidson'spicture of how communication between agents occurs. Similarly, JohnMcDowell, while also critical of Davidson's epistemological views,claims that Rorty's view of the relation between agent and world asmerely causal runs foul of the notion that our very concept of acreature with beliefs involves the idea of a rational constraint of theworld on our epistemic states.

However, critics are concerned not only with what they see as amisguided view of belief, truth, and knowledge, whether relativist,subjectivist, or idealist in nature. An important reason for the hightemperature of much of the debate that Rorty has inspired is that heappears to some to reject the very values that are the basis for anyarticulation of a philosophical view of truth and knowledge at all.Rorty is critical of the role of argument in intellectual progress, anddismissive of the very idea of theories of truth, knowledge,rationality, and the like. Philosophers such as Hilary Putnam and SusanHaack have increasingly focussed on this aspect of Rorty's views.Haack, in particular, frames criticism of Rorty along these lines inmoral terms; to her mind, Rorty's efforts to abandon the basic conceptsof traditional epistemology are symptoms of a vulgar cynicism, whichcontributes to the decline of reason and intellectual integrity thatHaack and others find to be characteristic of much contemporarythought. The charge of intellectual irresponsibility is sometimesraised, or at last implied, in connection with Rorty's use ofhistorical figures. Rorty's reading of Descartes and of Kant in PMN haveoften been challenged, as has his more constructive uses of Hegel,Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. The kind of appropriation ofother writers and thinkers that Rorty performs will at times seem to doviolence to the views and intentions of the protagonists. Rorty,however, is quite clear about the rhetorical point and scholarly limitationsof these kinds of redescriptions, as he explains in 'The Historiographyof Philosophy: Four Genres.'

4.2 Claim to Pragmatism

One particularly contentious issue has arisen in connection withRorty's appropriation of earlier philosophers; prominent readers ofthe classical American pragmatists have expressed deep reservationsabout Rorty's interpretation of Dewey and Peirce, in particular, andthe pragmatist movement in general. Consequently, Rorty's entitlementto the label 'pragmatist' has been challenged. For instance SusanHaack's strong claims on this score have received much attention, butthere are many others. (See, for example, the discussions of Rorty inThomas M. Alexander, 1987; Gary Brodsky, 1982; James Campbell, 1984;Abraham Edel, 1985; James Gouinlock, 1995; Lavine 1995; R.W: Sleeper,1986; as well as the essays in Lenore Langdorf and Andrew R. Smith,1995.) For Rorty, the key figure in the American pragmatist movementis John Dewey, to whom he attributes many of his own centraldoctrines. In particular, Rorty finds in Dewey an anticipation of hisown view of philosophy as the hand-maiden of a humanist politics, of anon-ontological view of the virtues of inquiry, of a holisticconception of human intellectual life, and of an anti-essentialist,historicist conception of philosophical thought. To read Dewey hisway, however, Rorty explicitly sets about separating the 'good' fromthe 'bad' Dewey. (See 'Dewey's Metaphysics,' CP, 72-89, and 'Deweybetween Hegel and Darwin', in Saatkamp, 1-15.) He is critical of whathe takes to be Dewey's backsliding into metaphysics in Experienceand Nature, and has no patience for the constructive attempt ofLogic: The Theory of Inquiry. Rorty thus imposes a scheme ofevaluation on Dewey's works which many scholars object to. Lavine, forinstance, claims that 'scientific method' is Dewey's central concept(Lavine 1995, 44). R.W. Sleeper holds that reform rather thanelimination of metaphysics and epistemology is Dewey's aim (Sleeper1986, 2, chapter 6).

Rorty's least favourite pragmatist is Peirce, whom he regards assubject to both scheme-content dualism and to a degree of scientism. Soit is not surprising that Haack, whose own pragmatism draws inspirationfrom Peirce, finds Rorty's recasting of pragmatism literally unworthyof the name. Rorty's key break with the pragmatists is a fundamentalone; to Haack's mind, by situating himself in opposition to theepistemological orientation of modern philosophy, Rorty ends updismissing the very project that gave direction to the works of theAmerican pragmatists. While classical pragmatism is an attempt tounderstand and work out a novel legitimating framework for scientificinquiry, Haack maintains, Rorty's 'pragmatism' (Haack consistently usesquotes) is simply an abandonment of the very attempt to learn moreabout the nature and adequacy conditions of inquiry. Instead of aidingus in our aspiration to govern ourselves through rational thought,Rorty weakens our intellectual resilience and leaves us even morevulnerable to rhetorical seduction. To Haack and her sympathisers,Rorty's pragmatism is dangerous, performing an end-run on reason, andtherefore on philosophy.

4.3 Analytic Philosophy

Nevertheless, the founding impulses of Western philosophy clearlyexpress themselves in Rorty's fundamental concern with the connectionbetween philosophical thinking and the pursuit of human happiness.Rorty's relationship to the traditions of Western philosophy is morenuanced than his reputation might suggest. So, too, is Rorty's relationto analytical philosophy in particular. Rorty is sometimes portrayed asa renegade, as someone who went through a transformation from bona fideanalytical philosopher to something else, and then lived to tell a taleof liberation from youthful enchantment. This portrayal, however,distorts both Rorty's view of analytical philosophy and the trajectoryof his thinking.

In the mid nineteen sixties, Rorty gained attention for hisarticulation of eliminative materialism (cf., 'Mind-Body Identity,Privacy and Categories,' 1965). Around that time, he also edited, andwrote a lengthy introduction to, a volume entitled The LinguisticTurn (1967, reissued with a new introduction in 1992). Though theintroduction to the 1967 volume and the early papers in philosophy ofmind show Rorty adopting frameworks for philosophical problems he hassince dispensed with, these writings at the same time clearly bear themark of the fundamental metaphilosophical attitude which becomesexplicit in the next decade. In the 'Preface' to PMN, referring toHartshorne, McKeon, Carnap, Robert Brumbaugh, Carl Hempel, and PaulWeiss, Rorty says,

I was very fortunate in having these men as my teachers,but, for better or worse, I treated them all as saying the same thing:that a 'philosophical problem' was a product of the unconsciousadoption of a set of assumptions built into the vocabulary in which theproblem was stated—assumptions which were to be questioned before theproblem itself was taken seriously. (PMN xiii)

This way of stating the lesson, however, appears to leave open thepossibility that certain philosophical problems eventually maylegitimately be taken seriously—that is, at face value in the sensethat they require constructive solutions—provided the assumptionswhich sustain their formulation stand up to proper critical scrutiny.Taken this way, the attitude Rorty here expresses would be more or lessthe same as that of all those philosophers who have diagnosed theirpredecessors' work as mixtures of pseudo-questions and genuine problemsdimly glimpsed, problems which now, with the proper frame ofquestioning fully clarified, may be productively addressed. But thefull force of the lesson Rorty learned emerges only with the view thatthis notion of proper critical scrutiny is illusory. For Rorty, tolegitimate the assumptions on which a philosophical problem is based,would be to establish that the terms we require to pose it aremandatory, that the vocabulary in which we encounter it is in principleinescapable. But Rorty's construal of the linguistic turn, as well ashis proposals for eliminating the vocabulary of the mental, are reallyat odds with the idea that we might hope to construct a definitivevocabulary for philosophy. Even in his early days, Rorty's approach tophilosophy is shaped by the historicist conviction that no vocabulariesare inescapable in principle. This means that progress in philosophy isgained less from constructive solutions to problems than throughtherapeutic dissolution of their causes, that is, through the inventionof new vocabularies by the launch of new and fruitful metaphors. (PMN'Introduction'; ORT 'Unfamiliar Noises: Hesse and Davidson onMetaphor')

To hold that no vocabulary is final is also to hold that novocabulary can be free of unthematized yet optional assumptions. Henceany effort to circumvent a philosophical problem by making suchassumptions visible is subject to its own circumvention. Accordingly,the fact that Rorty often distances himself from the terms in which heearlier framed arguments and made diagnoses is in itself no reason toimpose on him, as some have done, a temporal dichotomy. It may be thatRorty's early work, inspired by a less critical, less dialecticalreading of Quine and Sellars than that offered in PMN, is moreconstructive than therapeutic in tone and jargon, and therefore fromRorty's later perspective in an important sense misguided. However,what ties together all Rorty's work, over time and across themes, ishis complete lack of faith in the idea that there is an idealvocabulary, one which contains all genuine discursive options. Rortydesignates this faith Platonism (an important theme in CIS). That thereare no inescapable forms of description is a thought which permeatesRorty's work from the 1960s right through his later therapeuticarticulations of pragmatism. These characterizations of pragmatism interms of anti-foundationalism (PMN), of anti-representationalism (ORT),of anti-essentialism (TP) are explicitly parasitic on constructiveefforts in epistemology and metaphysics, and are intended to high-lightthe various ways that these efforts remain under the spell of aPlatonic faith in ideal concepts and mandatory forms ofdescriptions.

Rorty's use of Quine and Sellars to make his fundamental pointsagainst the idea of philosophy as a knowledge legitimation project, aswell as his articulation of his critique in terms of typically'analytical' philosophical problems, has contributed to an impressionof PMN as an internal indictment of analytic philosophy as such.Many—some gleeful, some chagrined—have read PMN as a purporteddemonstration of the bankruptcy of one of the two contemporary mainstreams of Western philosophy. Such readers draw support for this viewalso from the fact that much of Rorty's writings since PMN has beenconcerned to show the virtues in thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida.(EHO) Twenty years later, however, it seems better not to superimposethe analytic-continental divide onto the message of PMN, or on Rorty.In PMN, his central point is that philosophy needs to break free fromthe metaphor of mind as a medium of appearances, appearances thatphilosophy must help us sort into the mere and thereality-corresponding ones. Rorty made this point in a vocabulary thatwas developed by Anglo-American (whether by birth, naturalization, orlate adoption) philosophers in the course of the precedinghalf-century. It is not necessary, and probably misleading, to seeRorty's criticism of epistemology and the assumptions that make itappear worthwhile as a criticism of a particular philosophical style ofphilosophy or set of methodological habits. Reading PMN in conjunctionwith the essays in CP (see particularly essay 4, 'ProfessionalizedPhilosophy and Transcendentalist Culture', essay 12, 'Philosophy inAmerica Today', and also 'Introduction'), one quickly sees that thetarget of PMN cannot be a putative school or branch of the subjectcalled 'Analytic Philosophy'. Because Rorty thinks philosophy has noessence, has no defining historical task, fails to mark out a specialdomain of knowledge, and is not, in short, a natural kind (CP 226), heleaves no ground from which to level that sort of critique. Nor is ithis intention to do so. Around the time of the publication of PMN,Rorty's view of the matter was ‘that 'analytic philosophy' nowhas only a stylistic and sociological unity’ (CP 217). He thenqualifies this point as follows: 'In saying….[this], I am notsuggesting that analytic philosophy is a bad thing, or is in bad shape.The analytic style is, I think, a good style. The espritde corps among analytic philosophers is healthy and useful.' (CP217) However, while Rorty apparently bears no prejudice againstanalytic philosophy in particular, the very reason for histolerance—his antiessentialist, historicist view of philosophy and itsproblems—has for many critics been a point of objection. After hisfaint praise, Rorty goes on:

All I am saying is that analytic philosophy has become,whether it likes it or not, the same sort of discipline as we find inthe other 'humanities' departments—departments where pretensions to'rigor' and to 'scientific' status are less evident. The normal form oflife in the humanities is the same as that in the arts and inbelles-lettres; a genius does something new and interesting andpersuasive, and his or her admirers begin to form a school or movement.(CP 217-218)

This is perfectly consonant with the attitude to the notion ofphilosophical method Rorty expresses 20 years later: 'So-calledmethods are simply descriptions of the activities engaged in by theenthusiastic imitators of one or another original mind—what Kuhnwould call the 'research programs' to which their works gave rise.'(TP 10) Rorty's metaphilosophical critique, then, is directed not atparticular techniques or styles or vocabularies, but toward the ideathat philosophical problems are anything other than transient tensionsin the dynamics of evolving, contingent vocabularies. If his critiquehas bite specifically against analytic philosophy, this may be becauseof a lingering faith in philosophical problems as lasting intellectualchallenges that any honest thinker has to acknowledge, and which maybe met by making progress in methodology. Rorty himself, however,nowhere says that this faith is part of the essence of analyticalphilosophy. On the contrary, it would seem that analyticalphilosophers, people like Sellars, Quine, and Davidson, have providedRorty with indispensable critical tools in his attack on theepistemological legitimation-project which has been a central concernin philosophy since Descartes.

Bibliography

Works by Rorty

Abbreviations

[PMN]Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979.
[CP]Consequences of Pragmatism. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 1982.
[CIS]Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
[ORT]Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers,Volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
[EHO]Essays on Heidegger and Others: PhilosophicalPapers, Volume 2. [EHO] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1991.
[TP]Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
[AC]Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought inTwentieth Century America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress,1998.
[PSH]Philosophy and Social Hope. Penguin, 2000.
[PCP]Philosophy as Cultural Politics. Cambridge,UK, 2007.

Other Works by Rorty

  • 'Pragmatism, Categories and Language.' PhilosophicalReview 70, April 1961.
  • 'The Limits of Reductionism.' In Experience, Existence and theGood, ed. Irwin C. Lieb, Southern Illinois University Press,1961.
  • 'Empiricism, Extensionalism and Reductionalism.' Mind 72,April 1963.
  • 'Mind-Body Identity, Privacy, and Categories.' Review ofMetaphysics 19, September 1965.
  • (ed.), The Linguistic Turn. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1967. Second, enlarged, edition l992.
  • 'Incorrigibility as the Mark of the Mental.' Journal ofPhilosophy 67, June 1970.
  • 'In Defence of Eliminative Materialism.' Review ofMetaphysics 24, September 1970.
  • 'Verificationism and Transcendental Arguments.' Nous 5,Fall 1971.
  • 'Indeterminacy of Translation and of Truth.' Synthese 23,1972.
  • 'Criteria and Necessity.' Nous 7, November 1973.
  • with Edward Lee and Alexander Mourelatos, (eds.), Exegesis andArgument: Essays in Greek Philosophy presented to Gregory Vlastos.Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1973.
  • 'Transcendental Arguments, Self-Reference and Pragmatism.' InTranscendental Arguments and Science, ed. Peter Bieri, Rolf P.Hortsman, and Lorentz Kruger. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1979.
  • 'Contemporary Philosophy of Mind.' Synthese 53, November1982.
  • 'The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres.' In Richard Rorty,J. B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner, editors, Philosophy inHistory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • 'Beyond Realism and Anti-Realism.' In Wo steht die AnalytischePhilosophie heute? ed. Ludwig Nagl and Richard Heinrich. Vienna:R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich, 1986.
  • Hoffnung statt Erkenntnis: Einleitung in die pragmatischePhilosophie. Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 1994. [This volume containsthree lectures delivered in Vienna and Paris in 1993, and not publishedin English. The French version appeared as L'Espoir au lieu desavoir: introduction au pragmatisme, Paris: Albin Michel,1995.
  • 'Responses.' In Rorty and Pragmatism: The Philosopher Respondsto his Critics, ed. Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr.. Nashville and London:Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • 'Responses.' In Debating the State of Philosophy: Habermas,Rorty and Kolakowski, eds. Jozef Niznik and John T. Sanders.Westport: Praeger Publishers, 1996.
  • 'Responses.' In Deconstruction and Pragmatism, ed. ChantalMouffe. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • 'Introduction.' In Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,by Wilfrid Sellars. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard UniversityPress, 1997.
  • Truth, Politics and ‘Post-Modernism.’ The 1997Spinoza Lectures. Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1997.
  • 'Responses.' In Richard Rorty: The Philosopher Meets HisCritics, ed. Robert Brandom. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell,2000.

Secondary Literature

  • Alexander, Thomas M., John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience,and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling. Albany: State University ofNew York Press, 1987.
  • Brodsky, Gary, 'Rorty's Interpretation of Pragmatism.'Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 17, 1982.
  • Brandom, Robert, ed., Rorty and His Critics. Oxford andCambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000.
  • Campbell, James, 'Rorty's Use of Dewey.' Southern Journal ofPhilosophy, 22, 1984.
  • Davidson, Donald, Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation.Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  • Davidson, Donald, 'The Structure and Content of Truth.' Journalof Philosophy 87, June 1990.
  • Dewey, John, Experience and Nature. In Later Works ofJohn Dewey, Vol. 1, Jo Ann Boydston, ed.. Carbondale: SouthernIllinois University Press, 1981.
  • Dewey, John, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. In LaterWorks of John Dewey, Vol. 12, Jo Ann Boydston, ed.. Carbondale:Southern Illinois University Press, 1986.
  • Edel, Abraham, 'A Missing Dimension in Rorty's Use of Pragmatism.'Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society. 21, 1985.
  • Farrell, Frank B., Subjectivity, Realism and Postmodernism: TheRecovery of the World in Recent Philosophy. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1994.
  • Gouinlock, James, 'What is the Legacy of Instrumentalism? Rorty'sInterpretation of Dewey.' In Herman J. Saatkamp, ed., Rorty andPragmatism. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995.
  • Haack, Susan, Evidence and Enquiry: Towards Reconstruction inEpistemology.. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993.
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Davidson, Donald | Dewey, John | liberalism | naturalism | postmodernism | pragmatism | Sellars, Wilfrid

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