PMN - Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979)
CP - Consequences of Pragmatism (1982)
CIS - Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989)
ORT - Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1992)
EHO - Essays on Heidegger and Others (1992)
TPP - Truth, Politics, and "Post-modernism" (1997)
AOC - Achieving Our Country (1998)
TP - Truth and Progress (1998)
PSH - Philosophy and Social Hope (1999)
RHC - Rorty and His Critics (2000)
TCF - Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself (2006)
PCP - Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007)
ET - An Ethics for Today (2011)
PRR - The Philosophy of Richard Rorty (2010)
MLM - Mind, Language, and Metaphilosophy: Early Philosophical Papers (2014)
RR - The Rorty Reader (2010)
These are uncollected essays from the 1960s.
"Recent Metaphilosophy" in Review of Metaphysics Dec. 1961
"Finally, one may deny the truth of (1) ["A game in which each player is at liberty to change the rules whenever he wishes can neither be won nor lost."], and say that, on the contrary, philosophy is the greatest game of all precisely because it is the game of 'changing the rules.' This game can be won by attending to the patterns by which these rules are changed, and formulating rules in terms of which to judge changes in rules." (301) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
These are uncollected essays from the 1970s.
"Transcendental Argument, Self-Reference, and Pragmatism" in Transcendental Arguments and Science, eds. Peter Bieri, Rolf-P. Horstmann, and Lorenz Kruger, 1979
"Despite this similarity in strategy -- which seems to me sufficient to let us call Davidson's argument an instance of transcendental argumentation -- the aim of his argument is to make impossible the whole Cartesian and Kantian dialectic which makes skepticism and anti-skeptical transcendental argumentation possible. I construe (pace its author) Davidson's argument against the notion of 'conceptual scheme' and against the 'scheme-content distinction' as an argument for pragmatism, and thus against the possibility of epistemology. Davidson, in other words, seems to me to have found a transcendental argument to end all transcendental arguments -- one which tears down the scaffolding upon which the standard paradigms of 'realistic' transcendental arguments were mounted." (78) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
Pagination to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature is so far standard between all editions.
"It is as if Quine, having renounced the conceptual-empirical, analytic-synthetic, and language-fact distinctions, were still not quite able to renounce that between the given and the postulated. Conversely, Sellars, having triumphed over the latter distinction, cannot quite renounce the former cluster. Despite courteous acknowledgment of Quine's triumph over analyticity, Sellars's writing is still permeated with the notion of 'giving the analysis' of various terms or sentences, and with tacit use of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent, the structural and the empirical, the philosophical and the scientific. Each of the two men tends to make continual, unofficial, tacit, heuristic use of the distinction which the other has transcended. It is as if analytic philosophy could not be written without at least one of the two great Kantian distinctions, and as if neither Quine nor Sellars were willing to cut the last links which bind them to Russell, Carnap, and 'logic as the essence of philosophy.'" (171-2) -- "Quine, Sellars, Empiricism, and the Linguistic Turn"
"The neo-Kantian image of philosophy as a profession, then, is involved with the image of the 'mind' or 'language' mirroring nature. So it might seem that epistemological behaviorism and the consequent rejection of mirror-imagery entail the claim that there can or should be no such profession. But this does not follow. Professions can survive the paradigms which gave them birth. ... I do not know whether we are in fact at the end of an era. This will depend, I suspect, on whether Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger are taken to heart. It may be that mirror-imagery and 'mainstream,' systematic philosophy will be revitalized once again by some revolutionary genius. Or it may be that the image of the philosopher which Kant offered is about to go the way of the medieval image of the priest. If that happens, even the philosophers themselves will no longer take seriously the notion of philosophy as providing 'foundations' or 'justifications' for the rest of culture, or as adjudicating quaestiones juris about the proper domains of other disciplines. Whichever happens, however, there is no danger of philosophy's 'coming to an end.' Religion did not come to an end in the Enlightenment, nor painting in Impressionism. Even if the period from Plato to Nietzsche is encapsulated and 'distanced' in the way Heidegger suggests, and even if twentieth-century philosophy comes to seem a stage of awkward transitional back and filling (as sixteenth-century philosophy now seems to us), there will be something called 'philosophy' on the other side of the transition." (393-4) -- "What Pragmatism Is"
These are uncollected essays from the 1980s.
"Signposts Along the Way that Reason Went," in London Review of Books, Feb. 16 1984
"If you want to know what the common sense of the bookish will be like fifty years from now, read the philosophers currently being attacked as 'irrationalist'. Then discount the constructive part of what they are saying. Concentrate on the negative things, the criticisms they make of the tradition. That dismissal of the common sense of the past will be the enduring achievement of the long-dead 'irrationalist'. His or her suggestions about what to do next will look merely quaint, but the criticisms of his or her predecessors will seem obvious." (5) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'"
"Reply to Six Critics," in Analyse und Kritik, June 1984
"Few people who use speech rather than guns do not advance such a [rational] vision. If one wants, as [Jay] Rosenberg does, to get Derrida and Heidegger, as well as Rawls and Sellars, in under the description 'philosopher', then one is going to have to explicate 'rational' so broadly that Baudelaire and Brecht and [Alexander] Hamilton will also be advancing 'rational visions', and practicing a 'dialectical' method." (82-3) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'"
"I realized that I had written a weak last chapter [to PMN] when I found readers of my book concluding that I was calling on philosophers to go out and edify. I managed, alas, to produce the impression that I was both recommending edification as 'the new mission of philosophy', and setting a good example by doing a bit of edification myself. This was disastrous. I had meant to suggest that there were about as many edifying philosophers in a century as there were great and original poets or revolutionary scientific theories - perhaps one or two, if the century was lucky. It is a status I would not dream of claiming myself, nor do I wish to recommend edifying philosophy to the young as a career objective." (84) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'"
"Thugs and Theorists: A Reply to Bernstein," in Political Theory, Nov. 1987
"I hope that it will not seem too pompous to begin with something like a political credo. My excuse for doing so is that it seems the best way to answer Bernstein's question about who I mean by 'we.' (It also has the advantage of enabling me to distance myself from the neoconservatives, with who I have been astonished, and alarmed, to find myself lumped.) The audience I am addressing when I use the term 'we' in the way Bernstein describes is made up of the people whom I think of as social democrates--that is, people whose view of the contemporary political situation has considerable overlap with the following eight theses..." (565) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
"I agree with Bernstein that I need to spell out the reference of 'we' more fully. I think that this is best done by reference to a view of current political dangers and options—for one’s sense of such dangers and options determines what sort of social theory one is able to take seriously. However, I cannot figure out what Foucault meant when he said (in the passage Bernstein quotes) that 'the "we" must not be previous to the question.' With Wittgenstein and Dewey, I should have thought that you can only elaborate a question within some language-game currently under way—which means within some community, some group whose members share a good many relevant beliefs (about, e.g., what is wrong, and what would be better). Foucault seems to be envisaging some sort of simultaneous creatio ex nihilio of vocabulary and community. I cannot envisage this. As far as I can see, you can only describe or propose radical social change if you keep a background fixed—if you take some shared descriptions, assumptions, and hopes for granted. Otherwise, as Kant pointed out, it won’t count as change, but only as sheer, ineffable difference. Attempts at such ineffability can produce private ecstasy (witness Kierkegaard and Nietzsche) but they have no social utility. A lot of Foucault's admirers seem to think that he (or he taken together with Lacan, Derrica, Deleuze, and so on) showed us how to combine ecstasy and utility. I cannot envisage this either." (575n4) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
Pagination to Consequences of Pragmatism is so far standard between all editions.
"The essays in this book are attempts to draw consequences from a pragmatist theory about truth. This theory says that truth is not the sort of thing one should expect to have a philosophically interesting theory about. For pragmatists, 'truth' is just the name of a property which all true statements share." (xiii) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"
"Pragmatists think that the history of attempts to isolate the Truth or the Good, or to define the word 'true' or 'good,' supports their suspicion that there is no interesting work to be done in this area. It might, of course, have turned out otherwise. People have, oddly enough, found something interesting to say about the essence of Force and the definition of 'number.' They might have found something interesting to say about the essence of Truth. But in fact they haven't. The history of attempts to do so, and of criticisms of such attempts, is roughly coextensive with the history of that literary genre we call 'philosophy'—a genre founded by Plato. So pragmatists see the Platonic tradition as having outlived its usefulness." (xiv) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"
"In this second sense, it can mean following Plato's and Kant's lead, asking questions about the nature of certain normative notions (e.g., 'truth,' 'rationality,' 'goodness') in the hope of better obeying such norms. The idea is to believe more truths or do more good or be more rational by knowing more about Truth or Goodness or Rationality. I shall capitalize the term 'philosophy' when used in this second sense, in order to help make the point that Philosophy, Truth, Goodness, and Rationality are interlocked Platonic notions. Pragmatists are saying that the best hope for philosophy is not to practise [sic] Philosophy. They think it will not help to say something true to think about Truth, nor will it help to act well to think about Goodness, nor will it help to be rational to think about Rationality." (xv) -- "Cavell and Romanticism", "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"This chorus should not, however, lead us to think that something new and exciting has recently been discovered about Language--e.g., that it is more prevalent than had previously been thought. The authors cited are making only negative points. They are saying that attempts to get back behind language to something which 'grounds' it, or which it 'expresses,' or to which it might hope to be 'adequate,' have not worked." (xx) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"The really exasperating thing about literary intellectuals, from the point of view of those inclined to science or to Philosophy, is their inability to engage in such argumentation—to agree on what would count as resolving disputes, on the criteria to which all sides must appeal. In a post-Philosophical culture, this exasperation would not be felt. In such a culture, criteria would be seen as the pragmatist sees them—as temporary resting-places constructed for specific utilitarian ends. On the pragmatist account, a criterion (what follows from the axioms, what the needle points to, what the statute says) is a criterion because some particular social practice needs to block the road of inquiry, halt the regress of interpretations, in order to get something done." (xli) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"For the non-Kantian philosophers, there are no persistent problems--save perhaps the existence of the Kantians. Non-Kantian philosophers like Heidegger and Derrida are emblematic figures who not only do not solve problems, the do no have arguments or theses. They are connected with their predecessors not by common subjects or methods but in the 'family resemblance' way in which latecomers in a sequence of commentators on commentators are connected with older members of the same sequence." (93) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"
"What is most distinctively modern in modern literature depends for its effect upon straight men, and especially upon philosophers who defend 'common-sense realism' against idealists, pragmatists, structuralists, and all others who impugn the distinction between the scientist and the poet. The modern revolt against what Foucault calls 'the sovereignty of the signifier' helps us think of the creation of new descriptions, new vocabularies, new genres as the essentially human activity--it suggests the poet, rather than the knower, as the man who realizes human nature. But this is dangerous; the poet needs to be saved from his friends. If the picture picture is as absurd as I think it, it would be well that this absurdity should not become widely known. For the ironist poet owes far more to Parmenides and the tradition of Western metaphysics than does the scientist. The scientific culture could survive a loss of faith in this tradition, but the literary culture might not." (136-7) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'"
"‘Relativism’ is the view that every belief on a certain topic, or perhaps any topic, is as good as every other. No one holds this view. Except for the occasional cooperative freshman, one cannot find anybody who says that two incompatible opinion on an important topic are equally good. The philosophers who get called 'relativists' are those who say that the grounds for choosing between such opinions are less algorithmic than had been thought." (166) -- "Better and the Best"
"If there were any relativists, they would, of course, be easy to refute. One would merely use some variant of the self-referential arguments Socrates used against Protagoras. But such neat little dialectical strategies only work against lightly-sketched fictional characters. The relativist who says that we can break ties among serious and incompatible candidates for belief only by 'nonrational' or 'noncognitive' considerations is just one of the Platonist or Kantian philosopher's imaginary playmates, inhabiting the same realm of fantasy as the solipsist, the skpetic, and the moral nihilist." (167) -- "Better and the Best"
"There is no more consensus about the problems and methods of philosophy in American today than there was in Germany in 1920. At that time most philosophers were, perhaps, more or less 'neo-Kantian,' but the dominant mode of academic life was that each Ordinarius had his system, and produced students who thought of problems within that system as 'the leading problems of philosophy.' That is pretty much the mode of life in American philosophy departments today. Most philosophers are more or less 'analytic,' but there is not agreed-upon interuniversity paradigm of philosophical work, nor any agreed-upon list of 'central problems.' The best hope for an American philosopher is Andy Warhol's promise that we shall all be superstars, for approximately fifteen minutes apiece." (216) -- "Do We Need a Center, or Generalities?"
Pagination to Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is so far standard between all editions.
"On the view of philosophy which I am offering, philosophers should not be asked for arguments against, for example, the correspondence theory of truth or the idea of the 'intrinsic nature of reality.' The trouble with arguments against the use of a familiar and time-honored vocabulary is that they are expected to be phrased in that very vocabulary. They are expected to show that central elements in that vocabulary are 'inconsistent in their own terms' or that they 'deconstruct themselves.' But that can never be shown." (8) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'", "Are There Bad Questions?", "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"Conforming to my own precepts, I am not going to offer arguments against the vocabulary I want to replace. Instead, I am going to try to make the vocabulary I favor look attractive by showing how it may be used to describe a variety of topics." (9) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"It makes perfectly good sense to ask how we got from the relative mindlessness of the monkey to the full-fledged mindedness of the human, or from speaking Neanderthal to speaking postmodern, if these are construed as straightforward causal questions. In the former case the answer takes us off into neurology and thence into evolutionary biology. But in the latter case it takes us into intellectual history viewed as the history of metaphor." (15-6) -- "Notes on Mysticism"
"That one uses familiar words in unfamiliar ways -- rather than slaps, kisses, pictures, gestures, or grimaces -- does not show that what one said must have a meaning. An attempt to state that meaning would be an attempt to find some familiar (that is, literal) use of words -- some sentence which already had a place in the language game -- and, to claim that one might just as well have that. But the unparaphrasability of metaphor is just the unsuitability of any such familiar sentence for one's purpose." (18) -- "Notes on Mysticism"
"If, with Davidson, we drop the notion of language as fitting the world, we can see the point of Bloom's and Nietzsche's claim that the strong maker, the person who uses words as they have never before been used, is best able to appreciate her own contingency. For she can see, more clearly than the continuity-seeking historian, critic, or philosopher, that her language is as contingent as her parents or her historical epoch." (28) -- "Notes on Mysticism"
"But they [Horkheimer and Adorno in Dialectic of Enlightenment] had no suggestions for its [civilization's] friends. They had no utopian vision of a culture which was able to incorporate and make use of an understanding of the dissolvant character of rationality, of the self-destructive character of the Enlightenment. They did not try to show how 'pragmatized thought' might cease to be blind and become clear-sighted." (57) -- "The Representation of Animals"
"...I think that contemporary liberal society already contains the institutions for its own improvement -- an improvement which can mitigate the dangers Foucault sees. Indeed, my hunch is that Western social and political thought may have had the last conceptual revolution it needs. J. S. Mill's suggestion that governments devote themselves to optimizing the balance between leaving people's private lives alone and preventing suffering seems to me pretty much the last word." (63) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
"... I disagree with Foucault about whether in fact it is necessary to form a new ‘we.’ My principal disagreement with him is precisely over whether ‘we liberals’ is or is not good enough." (64) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
"I agree with Foucault that the constitution of a new 'we' can, indeed, result from asking the right quesetion. A community of intellectuals was constituted, in the seventeeth century, by Galileo's question 'Is any motion more "natural" than any other?' Another was constituted by Marx's question 'Is the state more than the executive committee of the bourgeoisie?' But forming new communities is no more an end in itself than is political revolution. Expanding the range of our present ‘we,’ on the other hand, is one of the two projects which an ironist liberal takes to be ends in themselves, the other being self-invention. (But by 'end in itself,' of course, she means only 'project which I cannot imagine defending on the basis of noncircular argument.')" (64) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
"It is a familiar fact that the term 'literary criticism' has been stretched further and further in the course of our century. It originally meant comparison and evaluation of plays, poems, and novels – with perhaps an occasional glance at the visual arts. Then it got extended to cover past criticism (for example, Dryden's, Shelley's, Arnold's, and Eliot's prose, as well as their verse). Then, quite quickly, it got extended to the books which had supplied past critics with their critical vocabulary and were supplying present critics with theirs. This meant extending it to theology, philosophy, social theory, reformist political programs, and revolutionary manifestos." (81) -- "Philosophy Books for Literature Students"
"[In reading Heidegger], it is the problem of how to keep 'hints and gestures' [Winke und Gebärden] distinct from the 'signs and chiffres' [Zeichen und Chiffren] of metaphysics: how, for example, to prevent the phrase 'house of Being' (one of Heidegger's descriptions of language) from being taken as a 'mere hasty image which helps us in imagining what we will' [from On the Way to Language]. The only solution to such problems is: do not put Heidegger's works in any context, do not treat them as movable pieces in a game, or as tools, or as relevant to any questions save Heidegger's own. In short, give his words the privilege you extend to a lyric which you love too much to treat as an object of 'literary criticism' – a lyric which you recite, but do not (for fear of injuring it) relate to anything else." (115) -- Asceticism and the Fire of the Imagination
These are uncollected essays from the 1990s.
"Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism," in Revue Internationale de Philosophie, March 1999
"Dewey was convinced that the romance of democracy, a romance built on the idea that the point of a human life is free cooperation with fellow humans, required a more thorough-going version of secularism than either Enlightenment rationalism or nineteenth-century positivism had achieved. As Dewey saw it, whole-hearted pursuit of the democratic ideal requires us to set aside any authority save that of a consensus of our fellow humans. The paradigm of subjection to such authority is believing oneself to be in a state of Sin." (7) -- "Pragmatism as Enlightened Romanticism"
Pagination to Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth is so far standard between all editions.
"Most of my critics on the left are fairly well disposed toward the antirepresentationalism I advocate, for this view is Nietzsche's and Foucault's as much as Dewey's or Davidson's. But they think of themselves as standing outside of the sociopolitical culture of liberalism with which Dewey identified, a culture with which I continue to identify. So when I say ethnocentric things like ‘our culture’ or ‘we liberals,’ their reaction is ‘who, we?' I, however, find it hard to see them as outsiders to this culture; they look to me like people playing a role – an important role – within it." (15) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
"Those who share Dewey's pragmatism will say that although it may need philosophical articulation, it does not need philosophical backup. One this view, the philosopher of liberal democracy may wish to develop a theory of the human self that comports with the institutions he or she admires. But such a philosopher is not thereby justifying these institutions by reference to more fundamental premises, but the reverse: He or she is putting politics first and tailoring a philosophy to suit." (178) -- "Religion, a Utilitarian Ethics of Belief, and the Public/Private Distinction"
Pagination to Essays on Heidegger and Others is so far standard between all editions.
"The extraordinary dryness of Foucault's work is a counterpart of the dryness which Iris Murdoch once objected to in the writing of British analytic philosophers. It is a dryness produced by a lack of identification with any social context, any communication. Foucault once said that he would like to write 'as as to have no face.' He forbids himself the tone of the liberal sort of thinker who says to his fellow-citizens: ‘We know that there must be a better way to do things than this; let us look for it together.’ There is no ‘we’ to be found in Foucault’s writings, nor in those of many of his French contemporaries." (173-4) -- "Two Uses of 'We'"
Pagination to Truth, Politics, and "Post-modernism" is so far standard between all editions.
"It is sometimes said that the Enlightenment project has failed. But there were two Enlightenment projects - one political and one philosophical. One was to create heaven on earth: a world without caste, class, or cruelty. The other was to find a new, comprehensive worldview which would replace God with Nature and Reason." (35) -- "Pragmatism as Enlightened Romanticism"
Pagination to Truth and Progress is so far standard between all editions.
"We [Rorty and Hilary Putnam] seem, both to me and to philosophers who find the views of both of us absurd, to be in much the same line of business. But Putnam sees us as doing something quite different, and I do not know why." (59) -- "Better and the Best"
"My principal suggestion is that [Daniel] Dennett put his claim that the self is a 'center of narrative gravity' in the context of the more general claim that all objects resemble selves in being centers of descriptive gravity. Narratives are just a particular form of description -- the one being employed by novelists and autobiographers -- but the sort of thing novelists do is not all that different from the sort of thing logicians, physicists, and moralists do. All these people are weaving or reweaving sets of descriptions of objects. The only general truth we know, and the only one we need to know, about the relation between the objects and the descriptions is that the object X is what most of the beliefs expressed in statements using the term 'X' are true of." (105) -- "Morton and Metaphysics"
"On my reading of Derrida, he does not 'deny' the existence of any of the things to which Habermas accuses him of being blind. He knows perfectly well that there are communicative practices to which argumentation by reference to standard rules is essential, and that these are indispensable for public purposes. He does not need to say, with [Jonathan] Culler, that 'the serious is a special case of the non-serious,' though he and Habermas should be able to agree that 'other discourses can be seen as cases of a generalized literature' if some useful purpose is served by so seeing them." (313) -- "Two Uses of 'Rational'"
Pagination to Philosophy and Social Hope is so far standard between all editions.
"One of James's most heartfelt convictions was that to know whether a claim should be met, we need only ask which other claims -- 'claims actually made by some concrete person' -- it runs athwart. We need not also ask whether it is a 'valid' claim. He deplored the fact that philosophers still followed Kant rather than Mill, still thought of validity as raining down upon a claim...." (148) -- "Rorty, Religion, and Romance"
"It is a consequence of James's utilitarian view of the nature of obligation that the obligation to justify one's beliefs arises only when one's habits of action interfere with the fulfilment [sic] of others' needs. The underlying strategy of James's utilitarian/pragmatist philosophy of religion is to privatize religion. This privatization allows him to construe the supposed tension between science and religion as the illusion of opposition between cooperative endeavors and private projects." (149) -- "Religion, a Utilitarian Ethics of Belief, and the Public/Private Distinction"
"The wrongness of believing without evidence is, therefore, the wrongness of pretending to participate in a common project while refusing to play by the rules." (151) -- "Religion, a Utilitarian Ethics of Belief, and the Public/Private Distinction"
"When we encounter paradigmatic cases of unjustifiable beliefs -- Kierkegaard's belief in the Incarnation, the mother's belief in the essential goodness of her sociopathic child -- we can still use the attribution of such beliefs to explain what is going on: why Kierkegaard, or the mother, are doing what they are doing. We can give content to an utterance like 'I love him' or 'I have faith in Him' by correlating such utterances with patterns of behaviour , even when we cannot do so by fixing the place of such utterances in a network of inferential relations." (159-60) -- "Religion, a Utilitarian Ethics of Belief, and the Public/Private Distinction"
These are uncollected essays from the 2000s.
"Some American Uses of Hegel," in Das Interesse des Denkens, eds. Welsch and Vieweg, 2003
"By diabolizing Kant, and by emphasizing the gap, rather than the links, between him and Hegel, I am rejecting a less oppositional account of the relation between these two philosophers that has been suggested, in different forms, by both [Robert] Pippin and [Robert] Brandom. Brandom is, I think, too charitable to Kant when he says that '[Kant's] fundamental insight is that judgments and actions are to be understood to begin with in terms of the special way in which we are responsible for them' [Making It Explicit 8], and also when he says that 'Kant's concerns are at base normative, in the sense that the fundamental categories are those of deontic modality, of commitment and entitlement, rather than of alethic modality, of necessity and possibility as those terms are used today' [Making It Explicit 10]. Brandom's reinterpretation of Kant’s doctrine of the primacy of the practical is as charitable as it is ingenious, but I am not sure that Kant would have been happy with it." (41) -- "Pragmatism as Enlightened Romanticism"
"Philosophy and the Hybridization of Culture," in Educations and Their Purposes, eds. Ames and Hershock, 2008
"Perhaps, a few centuries from now, nobody will have much sense of what it was like to take sides between Pascal and Hobbes, or Luther and the papacy, or Confucianism and Daoism, or opposing Vedantic schools. But human creativity and diversity may flourish nonetheless. The human imagination may burn even brighter, even though many of the fuels that fed it are no longer available." (44) -- Asceticism and the Fire of the Imagination
Pagination to Rorty and His Critics (ed. Robert Brandom) is so far standard between all editions.
"Putnam, Apel and Habermas all take over from Peirce an idea which I reject: the idea of convergence upon the One Truth. Instead of arguing that because reality is One, and truth correspondence to that One Reality, Peircians argue that the idea of convergence is built into the presuppositions of discourse. They all agree that the principal reason why reason cannot be naturalized is that reason is normative and norms cannot be naturalized. But, they say, we can make room for the normative without going back to the traditional idea of a duty to correspond to the intrinsic nature of One Reality. We do this by attending to the universalistic character of the idealizing presuppositions of discourse." (5) -- "Better and the Best"
"Habermas’ doctrine of a 'transcendent moment' seems to me to run together a commendable willingness to try something new with an empty boast. To say 'I’ll try to defend this against all comers' is often, depending upon the circumstances, a commendable attitude. But to say 'I can successfully defend this against all comers' is silly. Maybe you can, but you are no more in a position to claim that you can than the village champion is to claim that he can beat the world champion." (6) -- "Better and the Best"
"When we have finished justifying our belief to the audience we think relevant (perhaps our own intellectual conscience, or our fellow-citizens, or the relevant experts) we need not, and typically do not, make any further claims, much less universal ones. After rehearsing justification, we may say either 'That is why I think my assertion true' or 'That is why my assertion is true,' or both. Going from the former assertion to the latter is not a philosophically pregnant transition from particularity to universality, or from context-dependence to context-independence. It is merely a stylistic difference." (56) -- "Better and the Best"
"Wittgensteinians, however, wonder if the target should not rather have been the idea that the ability to act in ways which are capturable in a recursive theory requires one to describe the agent as applying such a theory. In the case at hand, they wonder whether the ability to cope with Mrs. Malaprop need be described as the ability to converge with her on any sort of theory, any more than the ability of two bicyclists to avoid collision is an ability to agree on a passing theory of passing. Whatever the competence of these bicyclists consists in, is there any particular reason to think that it is having a theory?" (75) -- "Rorty's Metaphilosophy"
"When [anglophone philosophers] try to read somebody like Gadamer or Heidegger or Derrida they just do not have enough background to get the point. Typically, they react to their confusion by saying 'Well, as a trained philosopher, I can tell good from bad philosophy, and this stuff is bad.' What they should say -- what would improve and expand their community if they did say -- is 'There is a lot about philosophy that I don't know.' This is also what should be said by Continental philosophers who are repelled by the technicality -- the lack of romance, drama, and verve -- when they pick up a book by Searle, Rawls, Davidson, Dennett, or Putnam. But neither sort of philosopher is willing to say this, because both insist that they know what philosophy is. They are both wrong." (148) -- "Love Poetry, Pain, Distance, and Romance"
"As far as doctrines within what we Anglo-Saxons call 'the philosophy of mind' or 'the philosophy of language' go, the view I attribute to this 'Continental' figures are, indeed, best expressed in 'Anglo-Saxon' terms. But such doctrines -- such arguable-for propositions -- are not all you get out of these writers. From Heidegger and Derrida you get a brilliantly original idiom (Heideggerese, Derridean) of which it is useful to have a command. From Foucault you get a kind of know-how, a way of looking askance and obliquely at contemporary institutions and practices, analogous to the kind of know-how you pick up from Marx and Weber. Had these three thinkers had to write in the idiom of analytic philosophy, we would have lost a lot. They would have found the idiom imprisoning, just as Peirce and Frege would have chafed at having to write in the idiom of the philosophy professors who made up their proximate intellectual environments." (149) -- "Notes on Mysticism"
"[I did not quite realize, until I read [Robert] Brandom's paper ["Vocabularies of Pragmatism"], either that I had adopted a vocabulary vocabulary, or that I was putting it forward as a replacement for the metavocabulary of representations. But now that I have learned this I mean something slightly different by 'vocabulary' than I did before. My philosophical aims have been slightly altered by having been given a better grip on the tool I have been using to achieve them. (188)] I also have a more flattering view of the course of my work than before. Brandom has suggested a coherence between my earlier and my later writings that had not occurred to me. I had not seen that there was a connection between the eliminative materialism I was urging in the 1960s and the private-public distinction I have been urging since Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. My unconscious has been more cunning than I had realized." (190n4) -- "Emerson's Development"
Pagination to Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself is so far standard between all editions.
"There are valid and serious arguments [for black reparations], but there are also valid and serious arguments for taxing the citizens of the First World down to the standard of living of the average inhabitant of the Third World, and distributing the proceeds of this taxation to the latter. But since neither set of arguments will lead to any such action being taken, I am not sure how much time we should spend thinking about them, as opposed to thinking about measures that have some chance of actually being carried out. It would be better to think about what might actually be done than to think about what an absolutely perfect world would be like. The best can be an enemy of the better." (105) -- "Better and the Best"
Pagination to The Philosophy of Richard Rorty (eds. Auxier and Hahn) is so far standard between all editions.
"Consider Davidson's thesis that most of our beliefs must be true, or Brandom's inferentialist theory about the origin of singular terms. Such theses and theories provide answers to questions like, 'Well, what will we say about the relation between language and nonlanguage, once we abandon the familiar "realist" account?' By providing the pragmatist with such answers, they facilitate his propagandizing efforts. Not everybody feels it necessary to pose such questions seriously, but when somebody does it is nice to be able to gratify her. Though sometimes it works best to say, 'that's a bad question, one that we pragmatists don't ask,' with some interlocutors it is more effective to reply, 'here's an answer to that question, since you insist on asking it.'" (247-8) -- "Are There Bad Questions?"
Pagination to Mind, Language, and Metaphilosophy is so far standard between all editions.
Pagination to The Rorty Reader is so far standard between all editions.
"Philosophy as a Transitional Genre" (also in PCP)
"For members of the literary culture, redemption is to be achieved by getting in touch with the present limits of the human imagination. That is why a literary culture is always in search of novelty, always hoping to spot what Shelley called 'the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present,' rather than trying to escape from the temporal to the eternal. It is a premise of this culture that thought the imagination has present limits, these limits are capable of being extended forever. The imagination endlessly consumes its own artifacts. It is an ever-living, ever-expanding, fire. It is as subject to time and chance as are the flies and the worms, but although it endures and preserves the memory of its past, it will continue to transcend its previous limits. Though the fear of belatedness is ever present within the literary culture, this very fear makes for a more intense blaze." (479) [This is a cut passage that would have appeared in the PCP version of the essay at 94.] -- Asceticism and the Fire of the Imagination
"The Fire of Life"
Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art:
I warmed both hands before the fire of Life;
It sinks; and I am ready to depart. [Walter Savage Landor's "On His Seventy-Fifth Birthday"]
I found comfort in those slow meanders and those stuttering embers. I suspect that no comparable effect could have been produced by prose. Not just imagery, but also rhyme and rhythm were needed to do the job. In lines such as these, all three conspire to produce a degree of compression, and thus of impact, that only verse can achieve. Compared to the shaped charges contrived by versifiers, even the best prose is scattershot." (521) -- Asceticism and the Fire of the Imagination
"I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts—just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human—farther removed from the beasts—than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses." (521) -- Asceticism and the Fire of the Imagination