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Tag Archives: richard rorty
First thought. To get a handle on the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, one can start with a simple question: what does the scientist (as opposed to the philosopher) do and accomplish? The answer seems pretty straightforward. The scientist reasons and experiments … Continue reading
This is a question that Stanford philosopher Richard Rorty used to ask, and he put it another way as well: is it the scientist or the poet who is (or should be) the liberal’s hero? Or to put it yet another way: Is a human … Continue reading
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 … Continue reading
Are you an Enlightenment universalist, a brooding Romantic, or a Rorty-like Pragmatist trying to split the difference? Regardless of your answer, a new book has just come out with a very definite point of view on the question (the author … Continue reading
The Contemporary World’s Metaphysical and Epistemic Grand Canyon: Are You a Brooding Romantic or a Rational Universalist?
In his essay, “Grandeur, profundity, and finitude“, atheist pragmatist philosopher, Richard Rorty, tries to walk us back from what he sees as our two chief metaphysical and epistemic precipices: romanticism and rational universalism. He starts with romanticism (84): The romantics became convinced … Continue reading
It ain’t easy, and it requires a bit of Kant and Kierkegaard to get there, but below is what I believe at this point in my life, and how I have arrived at believing it. First, here is what I … Continue reading
Once you acknowledge (as I do) that the universe appears, paradoxically, as either self-created or always existent, and that it consists of atoms and the void and nothing else, then there is nothing in that universe that can tell you, as … Continue reading
In asking, existentially, where we are, I think that there are two great facts and three great questions: It appears that we live within a paradox—a universe that made itself or has always existed. It also appears that the universe consists … Continue reading
Richard Rorty on “Truth” (with a capital “T”) v. merely human democratic justification via rhetoric and persuasion:
Atheist biologist Jerry Coyne asked his blog readers today to coin one word that could be used for atheists who are accomodating—rather than combative—in their attitudes toward religion. Here was my response: Since you’re obviously talking about people like me, maybe … Continue reading
I would say nothing. I think that empiricism and reason are the best that we can do. So then why, as an agnostic, am I defending (in a previous post) Francis Collins’s explicitly theological gestures? Here’s why: I think that, with … Continue reading
As Non-Empirical Languages, Do Philosophical Systems Have Greater Epistemic Validity Than Theological Systems?
I would say no. When we are dealing with non-empirical (that is, non-scientific) languages, I don’t think that you can give substantially greater epistemic weight to the conclusions of philosophers over those of theologians. When I think of some of the … Continue reading
Even if we arrive at a complete scientific language that accounts for the existence of everything in the universe in a functional fashion, we will still be up against an ontological mystery (the mystery of being itself), and we will … Continue reading
The existence of the universe is a mystery. And we are, all of us, embedded in that mystery, and so we need to keep talking about it, like Jacob wrestling the angel, and not drive it away as if it … Continue reading
Let a Thousand Languages Bloom: Scientific Reductionism and Its Tension with Other Ways of Talking About the World
Although I am an agnostic, I think that scientific reductionism is frequently in danger of “giving away the moon” metaphorically. Wordsworth said, “We murder to dissect.” I’m okay with reductionism (who isn’t?) so long as it leaves plenty of other … Continue reading
I agree with the philosopher Richard Rorty that languages are tools. And in the context to which these tools are applied, their value—including their truth value—can then be judged. You fly airplanes with scientific language, and you fly romances with poetic … Continue reading
I don’t think so. If I hurt myself on a ski slope, I want scientific language spoken over me between medics and doctors, but if I die from my injuries, I want my wife and friends to read poems over … Continue reading