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Humanities 2013, 2(3), 384-403; doi:10.3390/h2030384
Article

Double Visions: Autobiography and the Ends of Philosophy

Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK
Received: 23 May 2013 / Revised: 19 June 2013 / Accepted: 9 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
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Abstract

In Contingency, irony and solidarity Rorty attempts to solve what Robert Pippin calls the ‘Modernity Problem’ by outlining a new self-understanding for the intellectuals of the ideal liberal society. The so-called liberal ironists of this post-philosophical milieu are no longer characterized by the quest for what Rorty describes as ‘a single vision’. This paper evaluates Rorty’s attempt to conceptualize the self-image of post-philosophical intellectuals in the light of two similar endeavors; namely, Nietzsche’s and the ancient Sceptics’. The preliminary conclusion is that although Rorty’s attempt fails, it points to an alternative way of interpreting the desire for a single vision; namely, as a form of autobiography. Drawing on Nietzsche, Nagel and Mill, the paper proceeds to argue that Rorty’s own autobiographical fragment exemplifies the way in which the narration of a failed attempt to find a ‘single vision’ can itself be seen as the achievement of such a vision.
Keywords: liberal ironist; autobiography; ancient scepticism; Nietzsche; modernity problem; intellectual self-understanding; Mill; Nagel liberal ironist; autobiography; ancient scepticism; Nietzsche; modernity problem; intellectual self-understanding; Mill; Nagel
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Gascoigne, N. Double Visions: Autobiography and the Ends of Philosophy. Humanities 2013, 2, 384-403.

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