On Rorty

by F.

In the early 1990s I was a Ph.D. student in (heavily analytic) philosophy. During a spring break at my university, I flew to New York to see a friend of mine. I was already having my doubts about my chosen profession but on the plane I finished Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. It convinced me the whole field was worse than worthless and I quit.

I admired Rorty not just for his intellect and his contrarian views, but because he turned his back on philosophy after concluding that it was, mostly, bunk (especially in America). He was my inspiration. Here was a man whose entire professional life had been taken up with philosophy. He had tenure and reputation. But when he concluded that his field was rediculous, he abandoned it and turned to other things (literature, loosely speaking).

I think that’s called integrity: staying true to your beliefs even in the face of personal loss. There’s nothing I admire more, or that I find less frequently.

There will be many eulogies in the coming days and weeks, I predict. Here (and here) are some starters before the main course arrives.

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