Rorty the outrageous

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Rey, Santiago

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Contemporary pragmatism, 1875-8185, Vol. 14, Nro. 3, 2017, p. 307-318

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Brill

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It has become all too common in discussing Rorty’s work, to distinguish the reasonable and constructive Rorty from the outrageous, destructive and irresponsible enfant terrible of twentieth century American philosophy. According to this familiar reading, one can unproblematically distinguish those rhetoric flourishes that have enraged so many of his philosophical colleagues from the substantive, and one might even say constructive, insights that are hidden in his work. However, as I will argue in this paper, this distillation process is not only hermeneutically suspicious, but actually hinders our ability to make sense of what Rorty was trying to say. Rorty’s call was to “break the crust of convention”; not for destruction’s sake but to (1) warn us against the dangers of all forms of fundamentalism and dogmatism and more importantly, (2) open up the possibilities (social, political, cultural, etc.) of a post-foundationalist, post-representationalist culture where solidarity and imagination at the service of human dignity replace the old obsession with objectivity and the quest for certainty.

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