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Dispensing with Truthfulness: truth and liberty in Rorty’s thought

   | 11 oct. 2021
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Rorty saw the course of philosophy in the twentieth century as an effort to part from two major philosophical trends, namely historicism and naturalism, only to inevitably return at the end of a tortuous path to these very same tendencies. If we can concede without major objections (although perhaps with many objections of detail) Rorty’s diagnosis of the trends in contemporary continental and analytical philosophy, which seem to reveal the exhaustion of modern philosophy, based as it has been on epistemology, we must, on the other hand, examine carefully the three main questions that this diagnosis leaves open: (1) How does Rorty reconcile continental idealist subjectivism with materialistic behaviorism? (2) Is it really inevitable that philosophy (and philosophers) blinded by Geist are unable to question prevalent beliefs? (3) Finally, is the acceptance of a liberalism that is not able to give reasons for itself the most effective and pragmatic liberalism? In answering these questions, it may not be possible to avoid a non-dogmatic, but pragmatic, metaphysics: a vocabulary of vocabularies that allows Rorty (and us) to speak of the problems of justice in Plato and Rawls, of the soul in Aristotle and Descartes, of the dystopias in Moro and Orwell. On pragmatic terms, perhaps a modest version of a metaphysic’s “vocabulary” turns out to be as legitimate and practical as any other vocabulary.

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Philosophy, Metaphysics, Ontology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science