Synopses & Reviews
In this book, major American philosopher Richard 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 but it cannot advance Liberalism's social and political goals. In fact, Rorty believes that it is literature and not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. Specifically, it is novelists such as Orwell and Nabokov who succeed in awakening us to the cruelty of particular social practices and individual attitudes. Thus, a truly liberal culture 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. Rorty uses a wide range of references--from philosophy to social theory to literary criticism--to elucidate his beliefs.
Rorty examines human solidarity and liberalism through literature, philosophy, social theory and literary criticism.
Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies.
A major American philosopher asserts that it is literature, not philosophy, that promotes a genuine sense of human solidarity and ultimately, the advancement of liberal goals through the social consciousness it raises.
Table of Contents
Preface; Introduction; Part I. Contingency: 1. The contingency of language; 2. The contingency of selfhood; 3. The contingency of a liberal community; Part II. Ironism and Theory: 4. Private irony and liberal hope; 5. Self-creation and affiliation: Proust, Nietzsche, and Heidegger; 6. From ironist theory to private allusions: Derrida; Part III. Cruelty and Solidarity: 7. The barber of Kasbeam: Nabokov on cruelty; 8. The last intellectual in Europe: Orwell on cruelty; 9. Solidarity; Index of names.