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📙 Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers, Volume 4 by Richard Rorty — free pdf


It is somewhat ironic that Rorty often referred to Donald Davidson as his "favorite philosopher". It was far from certain that Davidson returned the favor. In fact, it often seemed that Davidson felt acutely co-opted or revised by Rorty. In any case, Davidson and Rorty shared a kind of ambivalence toward Philosophy, even as they contributed strongly to the best core traditions of that discipline. That is, both Davidson and Rorty felt some allegiance to disciplines (or departments) other than Philosophy -- Davidson to Psychology and Rorty to Literary Criticism and the Humanities. But in both cases, their stances were philosophical, in the best sense, in that they were unwilling to hide behind "scientific", "logical", or other artificially formal intellectual technologies. In short, as philosophers they took a flat-footed stance in confronting experience with language. The experience and the language were finally grounded in the experience and language shared by all human beings. In Rorty's later works, his overall approach had a direct emotional appeal, not just a logical appeal. The foundation of his arguments was not of the old-school sort; it was neither logical or scientific. Rather, it was an appeal to shared experience and shared interpretation. In one sense he was on shaky ground. Nothing could be "proved". Nevertheless, Rorty was reaching for -- and in his best later work reached -- a foundation more compelling and more universal than science or logic. His arguments were based on a profound knowledge and understanding of human history, expressed and analyzed in engaging and conversational prose. His best essays in this volume (and see also Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America) are reminiscent of personal letters from that smarter roommate we all had in college -- someone we could trust to enlighten us, someone we could assume was right when we didn't get it at first.

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