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Richard Rorty - Book Report/Review Example

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Richard McKay Rorty, American pragmatist philosopher and public intellectual noted for his wide-ranging critique of the modern conception of philosophy as a quasi-scientific enterprise aimed at reaching certainty and objective truth. In politics he has argued against programs of both the left and the right in favor of what he describes as a meliorative and reformist "bourgeois liberalism." (2).Rorty's views are somewhat easier to characterize in negative than in positive terms. In epistemology he opposes foundationalism, the view that all knowledge can be grounded, or justified, in a set of basic statements that do not themselves require justification. According to his "epistemological behaviorism," Rorty holds that no statement is epistemologically more basic than any other, and no statement is ever justified "finally" but only relative to some circumscribed and contextually determined set of additional statements. In the philosophy of language Rorty rejects the idea that sentences or beliefs are "true" or "false" in any interesting sense other than being useful or successful within a broad social practice. He also opposes representationism, the view that the main function of language is to represent or picture pieces of an objectively existing reality. Finally, in metaphysics he rejects both realism and antirealism, or idealism, as products of mistaken representationalist assumptions about language.Richard Rorty was born in 1931 in New York City...
he grandson of Walter Rauschenbusch, one of the founders of America's social gospel movement, and both his parents were writers and active Trotskyites. "My parents were part of the anti-Stalinist left which centered on John Dewey," Rorty has said. Despite his own hostility to Marxism, he continues to place himself "wholeheartedly on the left."

Rorty's publications include Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Consequences of Pragmatism (1982), and Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989). (2)

His philosophies
a. Overview
b. Philosophy: Neither Realism nor Antirealism
c. Anti-essential Nominalism
d. Anti-foundationalist Historicism
e. Ethnocentricism
f. Philosophy as Metaphor
g. Anti-representational Metaphilosophy
h. Pragmatic Pluralism
i. Solidarities, Poets, and the Jeffersonian Strategy
j. Non-reductive Materialism and the Self (4)

Overview of his philosophies
The overarching theme of Rorty's writing is a promotion of a thorough-going naturalism. Recognizing the value of the Enlightenment challenge to religious speculation, and its offering of a humanist philosophy in its place, Rorty argues that the Enlightenment program was never completed. It fell short of it goal by keeping one foot in the past. By substituting the notion of Truth as One in place of a monotheistic world view, the Enlightenment reformers repeated the tradition's error by continuing to seek non-human authority, now in the guise of what Wilfred Sellers called "the Myth of the Given." Holding that reality has an intrinsic nature, and by advancing the correspondence theory of truth, Enlightenment philosophers turned away from full-blown naturalism, ironically, in service to a scientific objectivity that required a radical separation of the observer from the observed. Rorty's ...Show more


Richard McKay Rorty, American pragmatist philosopher and public intellectual noted for his wide-ranging critique of the modern conception of philosophy as a quasi-scientific enterprise aimed at reaching certainty and objective truth. …
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