Richard Rorty

Who was Richard Rorty?

Richard McKay Rorty (1931-2007) was probably the most widely read contemporary American philosopher who is not considered to be doing philosophy by analytic and empirical philosophers. He taught at Wellesley, Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Stanford. Rorty began as an analytic philosopher, arguing in favor of eliminative materialism, but with Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) he began in the late 1970s to criticize analytic philosophy from a pragmatic perspective that drew on Continental thought.

As a neo-pragmatist, Rorty believed that most philosophical problems are illusions caused by language, that truth is a somewhat arbitrary and relative ideal, and that philosophy is just a literary genre. His main writings include Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Consequences of Pragmatism (1982), Philosophy in History (1985), Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), Objectivity, Relativism and Truth: Philosophical Papers I (1991), Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers II (1991), Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth Century America (1998), Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers III (1998), Philosophy and Social Hope, (2000), Against Bosses, Against Oligarchies: A Conversation with Richard Rorty (2002), The Future of Religion with Gianni Vattimo (2005), and Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers IV (2007).

What was Richard Rorty's view of truth?

Rorty (1931-2007) criticized the idea that all we know are ideas that represent the world, or "representationalism"; he also challenged the special intellectual role of philosophers. He thought that "true" is just an honorific term used within linguistic and knowledge communities to mean "justified to the hilt." Rorty called this epistemological position "liberal ironism" because it rested on ideals of human freedom. He thought that commitment alone is adequate justification for belief. This view led Rorty into relativism.

What was Richard Rorty's concept of philosophy?

Rorty (1931-2007) viewed philosophy as an ongoing free conversation or exchange of ideas that might be pursued passionately but nonetheless could not arrive at a kind of truth that did not exist. Philosophy was an opportunity to creatively reinvent oneself. Although he continually expressed liberal views, he did not think a rational view of universal human rights was possible to construct but that empathy and related sentiments could be cultivated by reading literature and through the right early education.

Jürgen Habermas

Who is Jürgen Habermas?

Jürgen Habermas (1929-) is a German philosopher and social theorist who combines the critical theory of the Frankfurt School with American pragmatism. With this combination he is postmodern in his emphasis on public speech and dialogue as a political way of life. His engagements with contemporary thinkers—from Jacques Derrida (1930-

Richard Rorty believed that most philosophical problems are illusions caused by language and that truth is an arbitrary ideal (AP).

Richard Rorty believed that most philosophical problems are illusions caused by language and that truth is an arbitrary ideal (AP).

How did Richard Rorty illustrate relativism to his audience?

Rorty (1931-2007) practiced a highly sophisticated relativism that allowed him to present a position that his audience would agree with, and at the same time show how that position could be plausibly contested by those who held a very different position that was unacceptable to him and his audience. Concerning fundamentalist religious beliefs, for example, he taught views opposed to them with apparent strong commitment, and at the same time tried to show how his perspective was deeply offensive and even counter-productive in changing the minds of those who held those beliefs.

2004) to John Rawls (1921-2002) to Pope Benedict XVI (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger)—exemplify his theory. However, it should be noted that unlike most avowed postmodern philosophers, Habermas defends Enlightenment democratic values.

Habermas' major works include The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962), Theory and Practice (1963), On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1967), Knowledge and Human Interest (1967), Toward a Rational Society (1967), Technology and Science as Ideology (1968), The Theory of Communicative Action (1981), On the Pragmatics of Communication (1992), The Postnational Constellation (1998), Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe (2005), The Divided West (2006), and with Joseph Ratzinger The Dialectics of Secularization (2007).

What are Jürgen Habermas' main ideas?

Habermas' (1929-) quest has been to find a normative or prescriptive basis for social criticism. As a graduate student, he identified the importance of the public sphere of political discourse in the eighteenth century, which did not endure. In his early work, he rejected positivism, Marxism, and the psychoanalytic tradition for their failures to provide a normative foundation. His own goals were liberatory, and he thought that modernity could best be criticized from communicative rationality, or progressive discourse, as opposed to merely instrumental or goal-oriented rationality.

Habermas has held that formal "pragmatics" is necessary to clarify the implicit rules that determine who participates in official and institutional discourse. In criticizing these rules, Habermas' conclusion is that such discourse is biased toward bureaucracy and technology or mastery of nature, which is not limited to capitalism. The correction lies in an ongoing dialectic or public discussion, with the ideal of obtaining the agreement of all interested groups. This pluralistic dialectic is itself an ideal speech situation. Habermas' ideal speech situation is understood by many to be a revival of Enlightenment rationality.

Is Jürgen Habermas' work wholly theoretical?

No. First, he holds that the ability to see the worthiness of other people's goals is a condition for participation in a discourse community. And second, the subject under discussion should determine what will count as convincing argument. He has expressed optimism that his notion of discourse is compatible with likely global peace among nation states.

Habermas has struggled with the idea of self-determination as an individuating criterion for states, and tried to determine the kinds of negotiations necessary for mutual cooperation within Europe. He has also claimed that dialogues between religious thinkers and secularists can be mutually beneficial even though some of the core beliefs of each group cannot be fully translated into the worldviews of the other.

Generally speaking, Habermas' views on rationality, cosmopolitanism, and democratically negotiated universal human goals represent a re-casting of modern ideals. Other post-modernists, such as Jean Baudrillard (1929-), Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), and Pierre-Felix Guattari (1930-1992), regard such ideals with greater skepticism and suspicion.

German philosopher and social theorist Jürgen Habermas is a postmodernist who has defended Enlightenment democratic values (AP).

German philosopher and social theorist Jürgen Habermas is a postmodernist who has defended Enlightenment democratic values (AP).

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