An Uncertain Skeptic: Richard Rorty & Philosophy as Epistemology

source: Philosophical Overdose    2015年5月18日
In 1979 Richard Rorty published his magnum opus Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. The headlining ambition of the book is to complete a turn Rorty discerned in current analytic philosophy against a constellation of ideas informed by the assumption that Mind serves as the foundation of epistemic authority. By setting this in a broader ‘therapeutic’ context inspired by Heidegger and Wittgenstein, the aim was to ‘liberate’ philosophers from their epistemologically fixated inquiries and, in the spirit of the book’s other hero, Dewey, provide them with a new intellectual task: helping to spread the ‘precious values’ of the Enlightenment by playing their part in “continuing the conversation of the West”. Its attempt to transform the philosopher from epistemologist to hermeneuticist makes philosophy more existential than programmatic in character. Nevertheless, its synthesis of the pragmatic and behaviorist elements in Sellars, Quine and Davidson with the historicism of Kuhn presents a challenge to those who wish to retain a ‘realist’ or ‘transcendental’ standpoint for inquiry, and thus aim to draw a methodological line in the sand between philosophy and science, or between philosophy and other ‘kinds of writing’.
This talk was given by Michael Williams (Johns Hopkins) at a conference on Richard Rorty and his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.

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