Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

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Cambridge University Press, 1989/02/24 - 201 ページ
"Richard Rorty is one of the most provocative and influential thinkers of our time. His sustained critique of the foundationalist, metaphysical aspirations of philosophy has had a galvanizing effect both inside and outside philosophy departments, and has led Harold Bloom to describe him as "the most interesting philosopher in the world today." In his new book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. Specifically, novelists such as Orwell and Nabokov (both discussed in detail in the book) succeed in awakening us to the humiliation and cruelty of particular social practices and individual attitudes. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual freedom of the ironic, philosophical perspective with the public project of human solidarity as it is engendered through the insights and sensibilities of great writers.The book has a characteristically wide range of reference from philosophy through social theory to literary criticism. It confirms Rorty's status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike." --
 

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The contingency of language
3
The contingency of selfhood
23
The contingency of a liberal community
44
Private irony and liberal hope
73
Selfcreation and affiliation Proust Nietzsche and Heidegger
96
From ironist theory to private allusions Derrida
122
The barber of Kasbeam Nabokov on cruelty
141
The last intellectual in Europe Orwell on cruelty
169
Solidarity
189
Index of names
199
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