Philosophy and Social Hope Paperback – Jan 1 2000
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About the Author
Richard Rorty is Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He is the author of PHILSOPHY AND THE MIRROR OF NATURE, CONTINGENCY, IRONY AND SOLIDARITY, and ACHIEVING OUR COUNTRY.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
The epithet 'relativist' is applied to philosophers who agree with Nietzsche that ' "Truth" is the will to be master of the multiplicity of sensations'. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
On the less philosophical topics, Rorty is a bit less consistent. His perspectives on academia are quite interesting, and certainly backed up with personal experience, but on politics he is not as good. His knowledge of politics and economics doesn't seem to be particularly exhaustive, and he often fails to back up his assertions with specific examples or verifiable evidence. Rorty's political writings are still worth reading, and I agree with most of his opinions, but he isn't nearly as cogent or authoritative there as in philosophy.
There are also a couple of essays that I just skipped over because they seemed to be obscure commentaries on intellectual disputes I knew nothing about. This is not a widespread problem in the book, though, and it is well worth reading whether or not you have philosophical background knowledge. (My own knowledge of that area is pretty limited.)
But like acid on the dross of idiotic or, to be more charitable, useless ideas which have led many a thinker into the deep and twisted woods of high theory, never to be seen again, Rorty pours out his neo-pragmatist criticisms on the various "isms" that claim to be more in touch with the "real world" than their competitors. What is left after the acid bath is a stark realization that there is little that we have to build a better world than our strenuously forged concessions, compromises, agreements, collaborations, and conversations about what in fact having a better world means. This antifoundational view leaves wholly unsatisfied people who believe that something more concrete is needed to build the world into something more salutary and livable than it was yesterday. Rorty tells the reader that there is nothing more concrete than he or she, that the need for rationalist foundations is a diversion from the true font of social hope and freedom. In this, he surpasses even John Dewey in democratic credentials, although this is seen as heresy in many philosophical circles. Unlike Dewey, Rorty offers no decision procedure for democratic practice. He bids us only to go and be democrats (his preference), or come up with your own good reasons for going in another direction.Read more ›
Rorty's often ben labeled as an anti-American lefty who spews forth dangerous 'relativism's and even worst 'postmodernisn's. Most of this, we learn, is quite wrong. Rorty is actually one of the more optimistic of the leftist intellectuals. Early in the book, he even takes them to task for being so gloomy, possibly due to an aggrandized nostalgia for Marxism and Postmodernism. The claim that Rorty is a relativist may or may not be true, depending on where you stand. He takes the unusual turn of denying the faculty of reason, but truly, I think there is a place for it in Rorty's philosophy. Instead of reason being the took that grasps reality as it is, in Rorty's framework, reason has the inflated role of choosing between alternatives. His denial of 'objective' human rights is bothering to some, but the same rules apply. What we call human rights, are simply agreed upon human preferences, although many see this (correctly?) as relativism.
There are though, a few major flaws with Rorty. His notion of progress is 'evolutionary.' What is the pragmatic view of the future? To make things better. How? We'll know when we get there. Rorty likens this to evolution, and in some ways he is correct. Biological evolution though, can only be judged in retrospect. We know that adapatations survive because they work, but we can only judge their effectiveness in hindsight. Contrary to Rorty's view, culutral evolution doesn't work that way. Here, the question NEEDS to be framed.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Conceptual Asylum 101
This is a work in epistemological mayhem. Richard Rorty believes that communal solidarity can be achieved by a suspension of any inclination or... Read more
It is difficult for me to criticize Rorty, being steeped in the tradition of Pragmatism as I am. I tend to agree with Rorty's conception of truth as "an expedient" we use to... Read morePublished on May 17 2002 by J.W.K
The Preface of this book notes the distinction between the items in this book, "lectures intended for a so-called `general audience' (that is, students and teachers in colleges and... Read morePublished on April 12 2002 by Bruce P. Barten
Essays such as "Globalization, the Politics of Identity and Social Hope" and "Looking backwards from the year 2096" are interesting reads and are well written. Read morePublished on April 2 2002 by Pen Name?
I knew that he was a so-called "relativist", and so I was rather skeptic about his writings. Read morePublished on April 28 2001 by Hiroo Yamagata
"Philosophy and Social Hope" is a typical Rortian collection of essays, in which he further espouses his pragmatic philosophy to achieve communal "solidarity. Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2000
Rorty is enormously influential today and deservedly so. His work is an intellectual treat not to be missed, even if you think you disagree with him. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2000 by John B. Butler Jr.
This book serves as an excellent introduction to Pragmatism (or at least Rorty's interpretation.) Pragmatism is pretty radical--it challenges basic philosophic assumptions such... Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2000 by Alex Sydorenko