Monday, June 11, 2007

Another brief philosophical note

Joseph Bottum, over on Observations & Contentions, the First Things blog, writes about the death of philosopher Richard Rorty. In my student days, which I spent, much to the dismay of my Dad, studying Latin, Philosophy, History, and Economics, which qualifies you to do . . . I am still trying to figure that out . . . I was exposed to and read a fair amount of Rorty's work.

Anyway, Rorty, as Bottum observes, did claim to be "the last true heir of of the American pragmatic tradition," which inheritance was bequeathed him by the philosophical establishment after John Dewey. A few other luminaries of this tradition are Charles Sanders Peirce (not a misspelling) and, most famously, William James. I would say that this tradition lives on in Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who published lectures, given at the Institute for the Human Sciences in Vienna, on William James, entitled Varieties of Religion Today: William James Revisited, in 2002, on the centenary of the lectures William James gave at the University of Edinburgh in 1902, which were published as The Varieties of Religious Experience. I suppose what makes Taylor a bit outside this philosophical tradition, apart from being Canadian, is that he is also a Catholic.

Bottum's thoughtful remembrance on Observations & Contentions nicely features links to writings in First Things regarding Rorty's philosophy. Damon Linker, who I am still unhappy with for his book-length attack an Fr. Neuhaus, has a good article on the The New Republic on Rorty that is worth reading, entitled Richard Rorty's blasé liberalism: End Point.

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