Rorty, Richard McKay (1931–2007)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P056-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

Richard Rorty is a leading US philosopher and public intellectual, and the best-known contemporary advocate of pragmatism. Trained in both analytic and traditional philosophy, he has followed Dewey in attacking the views of knowledge, mind, language and culture that have made both approaches attractive, drawing on arguments and views of the history of philosophy from sources ranging from Heidegger and Derrida to Quine and Wilfrid Sellars. He takes pragmatism to have moved beyond Dewey by learning from analytical philosophy to make ‘the linguistic turn’, and from Thomas Kuhn that there is no such thing as ‘scientific method’. Language and thought are tools for coping, not representations mirroring reality. Rorty’s characteristic philosophical positions are what might be called ‘anti-isms’, positions defined primarily by what they deny. In epistemology he endorses anti-foundationalism, in philosophy of language anti-representationalism, in metaphysics anti-essentialism and anti- both realism and antirealism, in meta-ethics ironism. He extols pragmatism as the philosophy that can best clear the road for new ways of thinking which can be used to diminish suffering and to help us find out what we want and how to get it. In the public arena, he is a leading exponent of liberalism and critic of both left and right.

    Citing this article:
    Rohr, Michael David and Christopher Voparil. Rorty, Richard McKay (1931–2007), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P056-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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