Rorty on Pragmatism

from ‘Pragmatism as Romantic Polytheism’ in The Revival of Pragmatism


“Poetry cannot be a substitute for monotheistic religion, but it can serve the purposes of a secular version of polytheism.” p. 23


“There is no such thing as truth.  What has been called by that name is a mixture of agreement, the love of gaining mastery over a recalcitrant set of data, the love of winning arguments, and the love of synthesizing little theories into big theories.” p. 28


These quotes aren’t directly related to this class, but I’m pulling out all of the works I interleaved annotations into over winter break and mining them for quotes.  We’ll see what pattern emerges.


The interesting thing about Rorty’s position in this article (and true about much of his work, the later Wittgenstein, etc) is that it never seeks to justify.  It’s purely descriptive, and then there’s a little persuasion.  There’s no need to controls or rules, only the agreement attendant to sufficient communication.  By that I mean Rorty is interested in us understanding him, but never does he attempt to defend theses, or begin from first principles.  The focus is different than in other philosophers and in much of the dialog between humans, especially in the religious and political realms.


But Rorty’s disposition is at home at a cocktail party, or a barbeque, or a lighthearted discussion amongst friends.  And the capacity to assume that disposition is something very necessary for sentience.  In a way, it is sentience poking out from underneath language, systems, intelligence.  And now you see where I’m going with this- how could we get Rorty’s disposition to poke out from a system?


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