Rorty and the Philosophical Tradition: A Comment on Professor Szubka
6 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2010 Last revised: 16 Mar 2010
Date Written: February 8, 2010
I agree with Tadusz Szubka's thesis that there is a "partial" continuity between Rorty's work in the 1960s (esp. The Linguistic Turn) and his later pragmatic philosophy in which he repudiated "analytic" philosophy. I suggest additional support for the thesis of continuity comes from an examination of Rorty's undergraduate and graduate education. I then argue that the real puzzle about Rorty's intellectual development is not why he gave up on "analytic" philosophy - he had never been much committed to that research agenda, even before it became moribund--but why, beginning with Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (PMN), he gave up on the central concerns of philosophy going back to antiquity. Many contemporary philosophers influenced by Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction and Sellars' attack on "the Myth of the Given" (the two argumentative linchpins of PMN) didn't abandon philosophical questions about truth, knowledge, and mind, they just concluded those questions needed to be naturalized, to be answered in conjunction with the empirical sciences. Why didn't Rorty go this route? The paper concludes with some interesting anecdotes about Rorty that invite speculative explanations.
Keywords: Rorty, analytic philosophy, Sellars, Quine, Nietzsche, metaphilosophy
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