Richard McKay Rorty
|Birth||October 4, 1931|
New York City, New York
|Death||June 8, 2007|
|School/tradition||Postanalytic · Pragmatism|
|Main interests||Philosophy of language|
Philosophy of mind
Ethics · Liberalism
|Notable ideas||Postphilosophy · Ironism|
|Influenced by||John Dewey · Martin Heidegger|
Ludwig Wittgenstein · Wilfrid Sellars
Friedrich Nietzsche · W.V.O. Quine
Donald Davidson · William James
John Rawls · Marcel Proust
|Influenced||Robert Brandom · John McDowell|
Gianni Vattimo · Cornel West
Nancy Fraser · Sam Harris
Richard McKay Rorty (October 4, 1931 - June 8, 2007) was an American philosopher. Western philosophy is a term that refers to philosophical thinking in the Western or Occidental world, as distinct from Eastern or Oriental philosophies See also [[Analytic philosophy]] and [[Continental philosophy]] The 20th century brought with it upheavals that produced a series of conflicting developments within Philosophy Events 610 - Heraclius arrives by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrows Byzantine Emperor Phocas Year 1931 ( MCMXXXI) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1931 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. The City of New York New York ( is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the nation's third most populous Events 68 - The Roman Senate accepts emperor Galba. 536 - St Silverius becomes Pope (probable Year 2007 ( MMVII) was a Common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. Postanalytic philosophy describes a detachment from the mainstream philosophical movement of Analytic philosophy, which is the predominant school of thought in English-speaking Pragmatism generally considered to have originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Peirce, who first stated the Pragmatic maxim. Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature origins and usage of Language. Philosophy of mind is the branch of Philosophy that studies the nature of the Mind, Mental events Mental functions mental properties Ethics is a major branch of Philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life Liberalism is a broad array of related ideas and theories of Government that consider individual Liberty to be the most important political goal Epistemology (from Greek επιστήμη - episteme, "knowledge" + λόγος, " Logos " or theory of knowledge Postanalytic philosophy describes a detachment from the mainstream philosophical movement of Analytic philosophy, which is the predominant school of thought in English-speaking Ironist (n Ironism (from Greek eiron eironeia is a term coined by Richard Rorty to describe someone who fulfills three conditions She has radical " Final vocabulary " is a term invented by Richard Rorty and explicated in Contingency Irony and Solidarity. Behaviorism or Behaviourism, also called the learning perspective (where any physical action is a behavior is a philosophy of Psychology based on the John Dewey (October 20 1859 &ndash June 1 1952 was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have Martin Heidegger ( September 26, 1889 &ndash May 26, 1976) (ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪ̯dɛgɐ was an influential German philosopher Wilfrid Stalker Sellars ( May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15 1844 August 25 1900 ( was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and classical philologist Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25 1908 Akron, Ohio &ndash December 25 2000 (known to intimates as "Van" Donald Davidson is the name of Donald Davidson (poet (1893–1968 American poet Donald Davidson (philosopher (1917–2003 American philosopher For other people named William James see William James (disambiguation William James (January 11 1842 – August 26 1910 was a pioneering John Rawls ( February 21, 1921  &ndash November 24, 2002) was an American Philosopher, a Professor of Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (maʁsɛl pʁust (10 July 1871 &ndash 18 November 1922 was a French Novelist Essayist and Critic This page is about the novelist For his father the politician see Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov. Robert Brandom (born 1950 is an American Philosopher who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. John Henry McDowell (born 1942 in Boksburg, South Africa) is a Philosopher, formerly a Fellow of University College, Oxford Gianteresio Vattimo, also known as Gianni Vattimo (born January 4, 1936) is an internationally recognized Italian Author, Philosopher Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953) is a Scholar, Public intellectual, Philosopher, Critic, Pastor, Nancy Fraser (born 20 May 1947) is a critical theorist currently the Henry A Sam Harris (born 1967 is an American Non-fiction writer and Philosopher. Events 610 - Heraclius arrives by ship from Africa at Constantinople, overthrows Byzantine Emperor Phocas Year 1931 ( MCMXXXI) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1931 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Events 68 - The Roman Senate accepts emperor Galba. 536 - St Silverius becomes Pope (probable Year 2007 ( MMVII) was a Common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language He had a long and diverse career in Philosophy, Humanities, and Literature departments. His complex intellectual background gave him a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the analytical tradition in philosophy he would later famously reject. Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of Philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century
Richard Rorty was born October 4, 1931 in New York City to James and Winifred Rorty. The City of New York Winifred was the daughter of Social Gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch. Walter Rauschenbusch ( October 4, 1861 - July 25, 1918) was a Christian Theologian and Baptist Minister Rorty enrolled at the University of Chicago shortly before turning 15, where he received a bachelor's and a master's degree in philosophy, continuing at Yale University for a PhD in philosophy. The University of Chicago is a Private university located principally in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. He served two years in the army, and then taught at Wellesley College for three years, until 1961. Wellesley College is a women's liberal arts college, in Wellesley Massachusetts, that opened in 1875 founded by Henry Fowle Durant 
Thereafter for 21 years at Princeton University Rorty was a professor of philosophy. Princeton University is a private Coeducational research university located in Princeton, New Jersey.  In 1982 he became Kenan Professor of the Humanities at the University Of Virginia. The University of Virginia (also called UVa, UVA, Mr Jefferson's University, or The University) is a highly selective public research  In 1998 Rorty became professor emeritus of comparative literature (and philosophy, by courtesy), at Stanford University. Comparative literature (sometimes abbreviated "Comp lit" is critical scholarship dealing with the Literature of two or more different Linguistic Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly known as Stanford University or simply Stanford, is a private Research university located in  During this period he was especially popular, and once quipped that he had been assigned to the position of "transitory professor of trendy studies". 
Rorty's doctoral dissertation, "The Concept of Potentiality", and his first book (as editor), The Linguistic Turn (1967), were firmly in the prevailing analytic mode. Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of Philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century However, he gradually became acquainted with the American philosophical movement known as pragmatism, particularly the writings of John Dewey. Pragmatism generally considered to have originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Peirce, who first stated the Pragmatic maxim. John Dewey (October 20 1859 &ndash June 1 1952 was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have The noteworthy work being done by analytic philosophers such as W.V.O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars caused significant shifts in his thinking, which were reflected in his next book, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979). Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25 1908 Akron, Ohio &ndash December 25 2000 (known to intimates as "Van" Wilfrid Stalker Sellars ( May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ( 1979) is a famous and controversial work by American philosopher Richard Rorty.
Pragmatists generally hold that a proposition is useful if employing it helps us understand or solve a given problem. Pragmatism generally considered to have originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Peirce, who first stated the Pragmatic maxim. Rorty combined pragmatism about truth and other matters with a later Wittgensteinian philosophy of language which declares that meaning is a social-linguistic product, and sentences do not 'link up' with the world in a correspondence relation. Philosophical Investigations ( Philosophische Untersuchungen) is along with the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, one of the two major works Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature origins and usage of Language. This article is about meaning as it is studied in the discipline of linguistics This intellectual framework allowed him to question many of philosophy's most basic assumptions.
In the late 1980s through the 1990s, Rorty focused on the continental philosophical tradition, examining the work of Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. Continental philosophy, in contemporary usage refers to a set of traditions of 19th and 20th century philosophy from mainland Europe Martin Heidegger ( September 26, 1889 &ndash May 26, 1976) (ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪ̯dɛgɐ was an influential German philosopher Michel Foucault ( (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 was a French philosopher, Historian, Intellectual, Critic and Sociologist. His work from this period included Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers (1991) and Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers (1998). Contingency Irony and Solidarity (1989 written by American Philosopher Richard Rorty, is based on two sets of lectures given at The latter two works attempt to bridge the dichotomy between analytic and continental philosophy by claiming that the two traditions complement rather than oppose each other.
According to Rorty, analytic philosophy may not have lived up to its pretensions and may not have solved the puzzles it thought it had. Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of Philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century Yet such philosophy, in the process of finding reasons for putting those pretensions and puzzles aside, helped earn itself an important place in the history of ideas. By giving up on the quest for apodicticity and finality that Husserl shared with Carnap and Russell, and by finding new reasons for thinking that such quest will never succeed, analytic philosophy cleared a path that leads past scientism, just as the German idealists cleared a path that led around empiricism. Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl (ˈhʊsɛrl April 8 1859 – April 26 1938) was a philosopher, known as the father of Rudolf Carnap ( May 18, 1891 &ndash September 14, 1970) was an influential German -born philosopher who was active in Bertrand Arthur William Russell 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970 was a British Philosopher, Historian The term scientism can be used as a neutral term to describe the view that Natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life such as philosophical In Western civilization, Idealism is the philosophy which maintains that the Ultimate nature of reality is ideal or based upon ideas values essences The so-called In Philosophy, empiricism is a theory of Knowledge which asserts that knowledge arises from Experience.
In the last fifteen years of his life, Rorty continued to publish voluminously, including four volumes of philosophical papers, Achieving Our Country (1998), a political manifesto partly based on readings of John Dewey and Walt Whitman in which he defended the idea of a progressive, pragmatic left against what he feels are defeatist positions espoused by the so-called critical left personified by figures like Michel Foucault, and Philosophy and Social Hope, a collection of essays for a general audience. Achieving Our Country Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America is a book by American Philosopher Richard Rorty. John Dewey (October 20 1859 &ndash June 1 1952 was an American Philosopher, Psychologist, and educational reformer, whose thoughts and ideas have Walter Whitman (May 31 1819 &ndash March 26 1892 was an American poet, Essayist journalist, and humanist. Michel Foucault ( (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 was a French philosopher, Historian, Intellectual, Critic and Sociologist. His last works focused on the place of religion in contemporary life and philosophy as "cultural politics".
On June 8, 2007, Rorty died in his home of pancreatic cancer. Events 68 - The Roman Senate accepts emperor Galba. 536 - St Silverius becomes Pope (probable Year 2007 ( MMVII) was a Common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the Pancreas. Each year about 37680 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with this condition and 34290 
Shortly before his death, he wrote a piece called "The Fire of Life", (published in the November 2007 issue of Poetry Magazine), in which he meditates on his diagnosis and the comfort of poetry. He concludes, "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. "
In Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Rorty argues that the central problems of modern epistemology depend upon a picture of the mind as trying to faithfully represent (or "mirror") a mind-independent external reality. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ( 1979) is a famous and controversial work by American philosopher Richard Rorty. Epistemology (from Greek επιστήμη - episteme, "knowledge" + λόγος, " Logos " or theory of knowledge If we give up this metaphor, then the entire enterprise of foundationalist epistemology is misguided. A foundationalist believes that in order to avoid the regress inherent in claiming that all beliefs are justified by other beliefs, some beliefs must be self-justifying and form the foundations to all knowledge. There were two senses of "foundationalism" criticized in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. In the philosophical sense, Rorty criticized the attempt to justify knowledge claims by tracing them to a set of foundations; more broadly, he criticized the claim of philosophy to function foundationally within a culture. The former argument draws on Sellars's critique of the idea that there is a "given" in sensory perception, in combination with Quine's critique of the distinction between analytic sentences (sentences which are true solely in virtue of what they mean) and synthetic sentences (sentences made true by the world). W V O Quine's paper " Two Dogmas of Empiricism " published in 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of Twentieth century Philosophy Each critique, taken alone, provides a problem for a conception of how philosophy ought to proceed. Combined, Rorty claimed, the two critiques are devastating. With no privileged insight into the structure of belief and no privileged realm of truths of meaning, we have, instead, knowledge as those beliefs that pay their way. The only worthwhile description of the actual process of inquiry, Rorty claimed, was a Kuhnian account of the standard phases of the progress of discipline, oscillating through normal and abnormal science, between routine problem solving and intellectual crises. Thomas Samuel Kuhn (surname ˈkuːn July 18, 1922  &ndash June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively Normal science is a concept originated by Thomas Samuel Kuhn and elaborated in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The only role left for a philosopher is to act as an intellectual gadfly, attempting to induce a revolutionary break with previous practice, a role that Rorty was happy to take on himself. Rorty claims that each generation tries to subject all disciplines to the model that the most successful discipline of the day employs. On Rorty's view, the success of modern science has led academics in philosophy and the humanities to mistakenly imitate scientific methods. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature popularized and extended ideas of Wilfrid Sellars (the critique of the Myth of the given) and W. V. O. Quine (the critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction) and others who advocate the doctrine of "dissolving" rather than solving philosophical problems. Wilfrid Stalker Sellars ( May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher Wilfrid Stalker Sellars ( May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25 1908 Akron, Ohio &ndash December 25 2000 (known to intimates as "Van" The analytic-synthetic distinction is a conceptual distinction used primarily in Philosophy to distinguish propositions into two types analytic propositions and
In Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), Rorty abandons the attempt to explain his theories in analytic terms and creates an alternative conceptual schema to that of the "Platonists" he rejects. Contingency Irony and Solidarity (1989 written by American Philosopher Richard Rorty, is based on two sets of lectures given at This schema is based on the belief that there is no intelligible truth (at least not in the sense in which it is conventionally conceptualized). Rorty proposes that philosophy (along with art, science, etc. ) can and should be used to provide one with the ability to (re)create oneself, a view adapted from Nietzsche and which Rorty also identifies with the novels of Proust, Nabokov, and Henry James. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15 1844 August 25 1900 ( was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and classical philologist Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (maʁsɛl pʁust (10 July 1871 &ndash 18 November 1922 was a French Novelist Essayist and Critic This page is about the novelist For his father the politician see Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov. Henry James, OM ( –) son of theologian Henry James Sr, brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James This book also marks his first attempt to specifically articulate a political vision consistent with his philosophy, the vision of a diverse community bound together by opposition to cruelty, and not by abstract ideas such as 'justice' or 'common humanity' policed by the separation of the public and private realms of life.
In this book, Rorty first introduces the terminology of Ironism, which he uses to describe his mindset and his philosophy. Ironist (n Ironism (from Greek eiron eironeia is a term coined by Richard Rorty to describe someone who fulfills three conditions She has radical
Amongst the essays in Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers, Volume 1 (1990), is "The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy," in which Rorty defends Rawls against communitarian critics and argues that personal ideals of perfection and standards of truth were no more needed in politics than a state religion. John Rawls ( February 21, 1921  &ndash November 24, 2002) was an American Philosopher, a Professor of He sees Rawls' concept of reflective equilibrium as a more appropriate way of approaching political decision-making in modern liberal democracies. Reflective equilibrium is a state of Balance or coherence among a set of beliefs arrived at by a process of deliberative mutual adjustment among general principles and particular
In this text, Rorty focuses primarily on the continental philosophers Martin Heidegger and Jacques Derrida. He argues that these European "post-Nietzscheans" share much in common with American pragmatists, in that they critique metaphysics and reject the correspondence theory of truth. When discussing Derrida, Rorty claims that Derrida is most useful when viewed as a funny writer who attempted to circumvent the Western philosophical tradition, rather than the inventor of a philosophical "method. " In this vein, Rorty criticizes Derrida's followers like Paul de Man for taking deconstructive literary theory too seriously.
In Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America (1998), Rorty differentiates between what he sees as the two sides of the Left, a critical Left and a progressive Left. Achieving Our Country Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America is a book by American Philosopher Richard Rorty. He criticizes the critical Left, which is exemplified by post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault and postmodernists such as Jean-François Lyotard. Although these intellectuals make insightful claims about the ills of society, Rorty holds that they provide no alternatives and even present progress as problematic at times. On the other hand, the progressive Left, exemplified for Rorty by John Dewey, makes progress its priority in its goal of "achieving our country. " Rorty sees the progressive Left as acting in the philosophical spirit of pragmatism.
On fundamentalist religion, Rorty said:
“It seems to me that the regulative idea that we heirs of the Enlightenment, we Socratists, most frequently use to criticize the conduct of various conversational partners is that of ‘needing education in order to outgrow their primitive fear, hatreds, and superstitions’ . . . It is a concept which I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, invoke when we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own . . . The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students . . . When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank. . . You have to be educated in order to be . . . a participant in our conversation . . . So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours . . . I don’t see anything herrschaftsfrei [domination free] about my handling of my fundamentalist students. Rather, I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents . . . I am just as provincial and contextualist as the Nazi teachers who made their students read Der Stürmer; the only difference is that I serve a better cause. ”
– ‘Universality and Truth,’ in Robert B. Brandom (ed. ), Rorty and his Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-2.
His notion of human rights is grounded on the notion of sentimentality. He contended that throughout human history humans have devised various ways to say that certain groups of individuals are not human or pseudo human or subhuman. Thinking in rationalist (foundationalist) terms will not solve this problem. We need to create global human rights culture in order to stop violations from happening through sentimental education. He argued that we should create a sense of empathy or teach empathy to others so as to understand others' suffering.
One of his greatest critics in this area is the strong foundationalist scholar Henry Shue.
Rorty is one of the most widely discussed and most controversial philosophers in our time , and his works have provoked thoughtful responses from some of the most well-respected philosophers of his age. In Brandom's anthology, entitled Rorty and His Critics, for example, Rorty's philosophy is discussed by Donald Davidson, Jürgen Habermas, Hilary Putnam, John McDowell, Jacques Bouveresse, and Daniel Dennett, among others. Robert Brandom (born 1950 is an American Philosopher who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Donald Davidson is the name of Donald Davidson (poet (1893–1968 American poet Donald Davidson (philosopher (1917–2003 American philosopher Jürgen Habermas (ˈjʏʁgən ˈhaːbɐmaːs born June 18, 1929 is a German Philosopher and Sociologist in the tradition of Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31 1926 is an American Philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s especially in Philosophy John Henry McDowell (born 1942 in Boksburg, South Africa) is a Philosopher, formerly a Fellow of University College, Oxford Jacques Bouveresse (born August 20, 1940 in Épenoy) is a philosopher who has written on subjects including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Robert Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28 1942 in Boston, Massachusetts) is a prominent American philosopher whose research 
John McDowell is strongly influenced by Rorty, in particular Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979). John Henry McDowell (born 1942 in Boksburg, South Africa) is a Philosopher, formerly a Fellow of University College, Oxford In the preface to Mind and World (pp. ix-x) McDowell states that "it will be obvious that Rorty's work is [. . . ] central for the way I define my stance here".
Although Rorty was a hardened liberal, his political and moral philosophies have been attacked from the Left, some of whom believe them to be insufficient frameworks for social justice. Rorty was also criticized by others for his rejection of the idea that science can depict the world. 
One major criticism, especially of Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is that Rorty's philosophical 'hero', the ironist, is an elitist figure . Ironist (n Ironism (from Greek eiron eironeia is a term coined by Richard Rorty to describe someone who fulfills three conditions She has radical Rorty claims that the majority of people would be "commonsensically nominalist and historicist" but not ironist.
Rorty often draws on a broad range of other philosophers to support his views, and his interpretation of their works has been contested . Since Rorty is working from a tradition of re-interpretation, he remains uninterested in 'accurately' portraying other thinkers, but rather in utilizing their work in the same way a literary critic might use a novel. His essay "The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres" is a thorough description of how he treats the greats in the history of philosophy.
As detailed in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, many philosophical criticisms against Rorty are made using axioms that are explicitly rejected within Rorty's own philosophy.  For instance, Rorty defines allegations of irrationality as affirmations of vernacular "otherness", and so accusations of irrationality are not only brushed aside, but are expected during any argument.
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