The last book by the eminent American philosopher and public intellectual Richard Rorty, providing the definitive statement of his mature philosophical and political views.
Richard Rorty’s Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism is a last statement by one of America’s foremost philosophers. Here Rorty offers his culminating thoughts on the influential version of pragmatism he began to articulate decades ago in his groundbreaking Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.
Marking a new stage in the evolution of his thought, Rorty’s final masterwork identifies anti-authoritarianism as the principal impulse and virtue of pragmatism. Anti-authoritarianism, on this view, means acknowledging that our cultural inheritance is always open to revision because no authority exists to ascertain the truth, once and for all. If we cannot rely on the unshakable certainties of God or nature, then all we have left to go on—and argue with—are the opinions and ideas of our fellow humans. The test of these ideas, Rorty suggests, is relatively simple: Do they work? Do they produce the peace, freedom, and happiness we desire? To achieve this enlightened pragmatism is not easy, though. Pragmatism demands trust. Pragmatism demands that we think and care about what others think and care about, which further requires that we account for others’ doubts of and objections to our own beliefs. After all, our own beliefs are as contestable as anyone else’s.
A supple mind who draws on theorists from John Stuart Mill to Annette Baier, Rorty nonetheless is always an apostle of the concrete. No book offers a more accessible account of Rorty’s utopia of pragmatism, just as no philosopher has more eloquently challenged the hidebound traditions arrayed against the goals of social justice.
Today, there are few philosophers left whose thoughts are inspired by a unifying vision; there are even fewer who can articulate such a view in terms of a ravishing flow of provocative, but sharp and differentiated, arguments. But rarely anyone can compete with Richard Rorty in summarizing the whole of it in a series of brilliant literary lectures like these.
Richard Rorty was the most iconoclastic and dramatic philosopher of the last half-century. In this final book, his unique literary style, singular intellectual zest, and demythologizing defiance of official philosophy are on full display.
A sharp and comprehensive statement of Richard Rorty’s distinctive version of pragmatism, presented with all the wit and vitality typical of his writings. Carefully edited by Eduardo Mendieta, with an illuminating foreword by Robert B. Brandom, this book is invaluable reading for anyone interested in Rorty’s philosophical vision.
We have perhaps the clearest account of how he understood pragmatist thinking as a political undertaking…Provocative and engaging…The array of urgent questions and crises facing our democracy makes one miss Richard Rorty’s voice: insistent, relentlessly questioning, and dedicated to the proposition that we can’t afford to let our democracy fail.
The verve with which [the arguments] are made and their relevance to our current context make for a bracing read…The message of Rorty’s body of work, so well summarized in these newly published lectures, is that aiming at ‘increased responsiveness to the needs of a larger and larger variety of people and things’ will reduce the sources of suffering, and by so doing multiply our opportunities to thrive.
Show[s] an impressive command of both analytic and continental philosophy.
It is coherent, often brilliant, and it presents a clear and timely case for political pragmatism.
A useful compendium of the philosopher’s mature views.
A very finely edited collection of essays in which Rorty’s undeniable polemical brilliance and philosophical knowledge are in full display.
- 272 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
- Foreword by Robert B. Brandom
From this author
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