Richard Rorty, R.I.P.

rorty-richard.gifFrom Crooked Timber, I have learned that the philosopher Richard Rorty (1931-2007) has passed away. An early announcement of his passing is here. Rorty helped revive pragmatism and spark a renewed interest in the work of John Dewey and other pragmatists of the first part of the twentieth century. He developed a brand of neo-pragmatism that fused some of the ideas of the classical pragmatists with a postmodern skepticism. I personally find myself more in agreement with the classical pragmatists, though I owe a great dept to Rorty’s attempt to reinvigorate pragmatism. I also celebrate his attempt to bring literature and narrative into his philosophy, his clear and engaging writing style, and his desire to be relevant, addressing many key questions in law and politics. Moreover, Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) remains one of my favorite works of philosophy. He will be missed.

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I agree entirely with your general of assessment of Rorty’s work. One thing in particular I appreciate is his philosophical interest in metaphor.

    Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1991) is a sympathetic yet comprehensive critique of much of Rorty’s contribution to philosophy.

  2. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    erratum: “your general assessment of…”

  3. RonPrice says:

    There was much in Rorty’s voluminous writings and his engaging ideas that I found attractive. I will mention but one, an idea which turned on the poetics of Emerson and Whitman. It related to the tension, the productive tension, which exists between self-creation and communal participation. As he approached his latter years he expressed his hope in Emerson’s idea that “the coming only is sacred.” He felt there very well could be “a romance with endless diversity” in which “the future will widen endlessly.” I hope so, too, Richard. I believe it will happen. Best wishes in your journey to Shelley’s Undiscovered Country if, in fact, that is an in evibility.