Special Issue "The Legacy of Richard Rorty"

Quicklinks

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2013)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Neil Gascoigne (Website)

Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Interests: pragmatism, metaphilosophy, scepticism, tacit knowledge, expertise

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During his lifetime Richard Rorty was unusual insofar as his work was more influential outside philosophy departments than inside. This was in part due to the fact that his ‘deconstructive’ attacks on what he took to be his discipline’s moribund obsession with truth and objectivity generated no small degree of antagonism. But in his attempt to find a place for the intellectual in modern culture his interests inclined increasingly towards those subjects and practices that engage more directly in shaping that culture, and thinkers in these areas were often encouraged to encounter a thinker who rejected the notion that their activities were in some sense lacking the appropriate cognitive bona fides. That Rorty was willing to engage seriously with the work of, amongst others, Foucault, Heidegger and Derrida made him all the more suspect to the one constituency and attractive to the other. Two factors complicate this story, however. On the one hand, the revival of interest in pragmatism has raised questions about Rorty’s neo-pragmatist rejection of the human aspiration towards objectivity; and on the other, thinkers on the political left who are amenable to that rejection are repelled by the ethnocentrism of his liberalism. The purpose of this Special Issue is to explore these and related tensions in Rorty’s work and in so doing help us arrive at a critical evaluation of his legacy. Papers are therefore welcome from those working in any area that conduces to that end.

Dr. Neil Gascoigne
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


Keywords

• American exceptionalism
• Sellars
• Dewey
• Pragmatism and neo-pragmatism
• Liberalism
• Truth and Objectivity
• Relativism
• Literary Theory
• Mind and World
• Postmodernism

Published Papers (9 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-9
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Rorty, Addams, and Social Hope
Humanities 2013, 2(3), 421-438; doi:10.3390/h2030421
Received: 28 June 2013 / Revised: 18 July 2013 / Accepted: 14 August 2013 / Published: 15 August 2013
PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper takes up the practice and ideas of Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, considering their work at the intersection of pragmatism and social action. It argues that both Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, each in their own way, were thinking through [...] Read more.
This paper takes up the practice and ideas of Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, considering their work at the intersection of pragmatism and social action. It argues that both Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, each in their own way, were thinking through the significant challenges that confront individuals in their everyday lives: How do we adjudicate between the competing values of individual accountability and helping others in our community? This is our social test, and the way we each answer the question matters for the future of democracy and our degree of social hope. Rorty was a champion of engagement with the community, and believed that out of this experience comes our capacity to creatively weave the fabric of liberal democracy. The paper argues that Addams’s work at Hull-House in Chicago offers concrete examples of the potential of reciprocal social relations, providing practical substance to Rorty’s ideas and showing how we can create social hope through action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Richard Rorty in Context
Humanities 2013, 2(3), 404-420; doi:10.3390/h2030404
Received: 7 May 2013 / Revised: 17 July 2013 / Accepted: 24 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
PDF Full-text (197 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Richard Rorty was a strong contextualist in his approach to philosophical and political ideas, yet his own most characteristic arguments are typically evaluated without much reference to the historical circumstances that provoked them. A key participant in the post-1980 revival of pragmatism [...] Read more.
Richard Rorty was a strong contextualist in his approach to philosophical and political ideas, yet his own most characteristic arguments are typically evaluated without much reference to the historical circumstances that provoked them. A key participant in the post-1980 revival of pragmatism within North American and European intellectual circles, Rorty reaffirmed the strong connections between American pragmatism and German idealism. This move placed him at odds with scholars who forged the unity of pragmatism—united John Dewey and William James—under the banner of radical empiricism. Those engaged most enthusiastically in celebrating Rorty’s achievements, in short, defend a conception of pragmatism that Rorty sharply criticized and ideas about the history of philosophy that he did not share. His distinctive intellectual agenda is best appreciated after setting it in the context of the history of the American Left and, more specifically, the reckoning with the tumultuous 1960s that animates so many ongoing debates—inside and outside the academy—about cultural and political affairs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Rorty, Pragmatism, and Analytic Philosophy
Humanities 2013, 2(3), 369-383; doi:10.3390/h2030369
Received: 12 June 2013 / Revised: 28 June 2013 / Accepted: 9 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
PDF Full-text (92 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of Richard Rorty's legacies is to have put a Jamesian version of pragmatism on the contemporary philosophical map. Part of his argument has been that pragmatism and analytic philosophy are set against each other, with pragmatism almost having been killed off [...] Read more.
One of Richard Rorty's legacies is to have put a Jamesian version of pragmatism on the contemporary philosophical map. Part of his argument has been that pragmatism and analytic philosophy are set against each other, with pragmatism almost having been killed off by the reigning analytic philosophy. The argument of this paper is that there is a better and more interesting reading of both the history of pragmatism and the history of analytic philosophy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Double Visions: Autobiography and the Ends of Philosophy
Humanities 2013, 2(3), 384-403; doi:10.3390/h2030384
Received: 23 May 2013 / Revised: 19 June 2013 / Accepted: 9 July 2013 / Published: 10 July 2013
PDF Full-text (118 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Rorty, Williams, and Davidson: Skepticism and Metaepistemology
Humanities 2013, 2(3), 351-368; doi:10.3390/h2030351
Received: 12 June 2013 / Revised: 21 June 2013 / Accepted: 25 June 2013 / Published: 8 July 2013
PDF Full-text (91 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We revisit an important exchange on the problem of radical skepticism between Richard Rorty and Michael Williams. In his contribution to this exchange, Rorty defended the kind of transcendental approach to radical skepticism that is offered by Donald Davidson, in contrast to [...] Read more.
We revisit an important exchange on the problem of radical skepticism between Richard Rorty and Michael Williams. In his contribution to this exchange, Rorty defended the kind of transcendental approach to radical skepticism that is offered by Donald Davidson, in contrast to Williams’s Wittgenstein-inspired view. It is argued that the key to evaluating this debate is to understand the particular conception of the radical skeptical problem that is offered in influential work by Barry Stroud, a conception of the skeptical problem which generates metaepistemological ramifications for anti-skeptical theories. In particular, we argue that, contra Williams, Rorty’s view that Davidson was offering a theoretical diagnosis of radical skepticism can be consistently maintained with his transcendental approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Taking Rorty’s Irony Seriously
Humanities 2013, 2(2), 292-312; doi:10.3390/h2020292
Received: 4 May 2013 / Revised: 26 May 2013 / Accepted: 6 June 2013 / Published: 12 June 2013
PDF Full-text (105 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (CIS) is an ambitious and provocative, but for many readers a deeply flawed work. This paper argues that many of its apparent flaws can be understood as integral to Rorty’s attempt to write a [...] Read more.
Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (CIS) is an ambitious and provocative, but for many readers a deeply flawed work. This paper argues that many of its apparent flaws can be understood as integral to Rorty’s attempt to write a work of private, post-theoretical irony. The paper’s first section outlines the substantive theoretical claims about language, selfhood and community which Rorty proposes as an antiessentialist alternative to ‘metaphysics’. The second identifies three difficulties—residual dualism, conceptual problems with the public-private distinction, and the work’s self-referential consistency—which constitute serious, but obvious problems for those substantive claims. The third section argues that Rorty’s metaphilosophical discussion of ‘ironist theory’ suggests CIS should be read as a personal work of irony which eschews theoretical ambitions, showing how this is consistent with and provides a motive for accepting the presence of conspicuous difficulties. The final section considers how the work’s metaphilosophical views interact with its substantive theoretical claims. The work’s irony is interpreted as resulting from the tension between these, so as to coexist rather than conflict with Rorty’s enduring commitments to liberalism and pragmatism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle Reconsidering Richard Rorty’s Private-Public Distinction
Humanities 2013, 2(2), 193-208; doi:10.3390/h2020193
Received: 25 March 2013 / Revised: 2 May 2013 / Accepted: 8 May 2013 / Published: 13 May 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (78 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article provides a new interpretation of Richard Rorty’s notion of the private-public distinction. The first section of the article provides a short theoretical overview of the origins of the public-private distinction in Rorty’s political thought and clarifies the Rortian terminology. The [...] Read more.
This article provides a new interpretation of Richard Rorty’s notion of the private-public distinction. The first section of the article provides a short theoretical overview of the origins of the public-private distinction in Rorty’s political thought and clarifies the Rortian terminology. The main portion of the article is dedicated to the critique of Rorty’s private-public distinction, divided into two thematic sections: (i) the private-public distinction as undesirable and (ii) the private-public distinction as unattainable. I argue that Rorty’s formulation provides plausible answers to the first kind of criticism, but not to the second. Finally, a reformulation of the private-public distinction will be suggested, which both mitigates the second line of criticism and better coheres with Rorty’s general theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle The Art of Democracy—Art as a Tool for Developing Democratic Citizenship and Stimulating Public Debate: A Rortyan-Deweyan Account
Humanities 2013, 2(2), 176-192; doi:10.3390/h2020176
Received: 27 March 2013 / Revised: 19 April 2013 / Accepted: 25 April 2013 / Published: 6 May 2013
PDF Full-text (84 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Richard Rorty holds that the novel is the characteristic genre of democracy, because it helps people to develop and to stabilize two crucial capabilities the ideal inhabitants of democratic societies should possess: a keen sense for anti-foundationalism and a disposition for solidarity. [...] Read more.
Richard Rorty holds that the novel is the characteristic genre of democracy, because it helps people to develop and to stabilize two crucial capabilities the ideal inhabitants of democratic societies should possess: a keen sense for anti-foundationalism and a disposition for solidarity. He believes that novels help develop these capabilities by educating our capacity for criticism and our capacity for attentive-empathetic perception. This article argues in favor of this Rortyan idea, showing how anti-foundationalism and solidarity can be seen as important instances of what I will call 'dispositions for democratic citizenship' and that art (and not only novels) and its reception, are valuable tools for advancing these dispositions. However, as the Rortyan public-private dichotomy assigns art’s function of criticism only to the private sphere, Rorty ignores its potential for stimulating democratic public deliberation and he misses the fact that art’s functions of criticism and of attentive-empathetic perception partially depend on each other if they are effectively to lead to increased solidarity and change social realities. Thus this article argues—taking these objections into account—to slightly modify, but nevertheless value Rorty’s idea that art and its reception are crucial resources for democratic citizenship and for the process of democratic deliberation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
Open AccessArticle On the Apparent Differences between Contemporary Pragmatists: Richard Rorty and the New Pragmatism
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 229-245; doi:10.3390/h1030229
Received: 16 October 2012 / Revised: 3 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 December 2012 / Published: 17 December 2012
PDF Full-text (216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Throughout its history pragmatism has been criticised for failing to account for the roles truth and objectivity play in our lives and inquiries. Pragmatists have long sought to guard against this objection, but recently some proponents have identified a form of pragmatism [...] Read more.
Throughout its history pragmatism has been criticised for failing to account for the roles truth and objectivity play in our lives and inquiries. Pragmatists have long sought to guard against this objection, but recently some proponents have identified a form of pragmatism which they think is deficient in the manner identified by its critics. This has led them to claim that pragmatism should be understood as falling into two distinct varieties, and to argue for the superiority of the one over the other. In this paper I argue that behind the apparent differences between contemporary pragmatists lies greater agreement than is commonly thought. Taking Richard Rorty to represent what some find unattractive in their philosophy, I claim that there is little if any substantive difference between pragmatists about the concepts of truth and objectivity. Further, Rorty’s work shows that it is misleading to distinguish pragmatists in terms of whether they highlight the constraints imposed by social practices or whether they seek to free us from such constraint; properly understood, freedom and constraint are a necessary condition of one another. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Humanities Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
humanities@mdpi.com
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Humanities
Back to Top