Pragmatism or Philosophy? Countering authoritarianism

“… openmindedness should not be fostered because, as Scripture teaches, Truth is great and will prevail, nor because, as Milton suggests, Truth will always win in a free and open counter. It should be fostered for its own sake.” Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity

In 1996, Richard Rorty delivered a series of lectures at the University of Girona in Catalonia, Spain. By then, Rorty had long turned away from the problems of traditional philosophy. As the title of these lectures makes plain, Rorty elaborates how to counter authoritarian politics without resorting to grand abstractions or indubitable first principles. Here George Scialabba reviews the lectures (which were published together in 2021), fills out the context of Rorty’s pragmatic approach to politics, and recommends some of Rorty’s books.

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