Richard Rorty on Making Ethical Choices in a Godless Universe

I think that Richard Rorty is right about this, but it’s a bit jarring to read it stated so directly and matter-of-factly. The quote comes from Rorty’s essay, “Kant vs. Dewey” (in the last collection of his papers, Philosophy as Cultural Politics, 187):

As I read the history of philosophy, Kant is a transitional figure—somebody who helped us get away from the idea that morality is a matter of divine command, but who unfortunately retained the idea that morality is a matter of unconditional obligations. I would accept Elizabeth Anscombe’s suggestion that if you do not believe in God, you would do well to drop notions like “law” and “obligation” from the vocabulary you use when deciding what to do.

What’s the problem with eugenics again?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to Richard Rorty on Making Ethical Choices in a Godless Universe

  1. eggplantinspace says:

    Whats the problem with Eugenics?

    Hitler, World War II…

    Oh Shit !!
    Does that mean I’ve lost the argument already?

  2. santitafarella says:


    I think that atheists and agnostics (like myself) have not really come to terms with the potential Nietzschean consequences of the death of God. I think that Taylor in Planet of the Apes did, though.


  3. eggplantinspace says:

    Yeah, but the thing about Taylor is….
    What people forget about Taylor is…..
    Taylor was a smeghead!

    If I was him I’d have grabbed the nearest shotgun, punched Cornelius in the face, grabbed Zira and ridden off into the sunset on the nearest camel!

    And as for the fluff-faced German. Dont come the big brained high and mighty with me sonny-boy.
    Just cos you and your other german playmates came up with your “Will to power”, “Will to live” la-de-da look how clever we are ideas, never forget…

    The Brit got there first.

    Darwin won that race.

    Dont forget it!

    And we won the war.


  4. santitafarella says:


    I think Taylor split with the right female.

    By the way, my wife is from the Midlands, and I like Churchill, but it was some of the early Greeks and Romans—from Thales to Lucretius to Marcus Aurelius—who figured out that things are in flux and evolving.

    In short, national pride on this is misplaced. The reality is that you and I, Eggplant, are probably closer (intellectually) to the apes than we are to the human geniuses like Darwin and Nietzsche.

    If Nietzsche had wandered by us in Turin, and we tried to shake his hand or give him a pat on the back he might have howled, “Get your hands off me you damn dirty apes!”


  5. eggplantinspace says:

    Taylor had a chance with the bushy one! Big sexy lips, something to hang on to. I suspect you’re being apeist!

    And as for Nietzche, we’d never get near him, his bodyguards would have flattened us before we could say “I love your podcast!”

    I suspect if Nietzsche was alive today, he’d be a computer games producer working on the newest version of “Sim City”

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