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am 29. September 1999
This book has influenced my reading and life for many years. Rorty defines what he believes the liberal individual can justifiably stake as his or her claims in the world. I found his views refreshing, light-handed, and extremely useful. I followed many of his sources, including a complete reading of Nabokov's works, and the amazing book, The Body in Pain, by Elizabeth Scary. Some I could tackle, others like Derrida's The Postcard, were over my head, but were still influential. I currently serve on a Board of Trustees and I find myself returning to this book to help frame my thoughts on political governance and on self-governance in a challenging environment. It is a deep well for those who wish to think carefully about how we can and should live now, given all the thought and experience that humankind has accumulated.
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am 2. Februar 2000
American intellectuals who are politically liberal face a problem. They are the happy inheritors of a tradition built around Judeo-Christian values (such as concern for the poor) and Enlightenment social institutions (representative democracy, free market economy, etc.) but, having read their Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud, they can no longer give credence to the metaphysical notions (God's Will and Universal Reason) which have historically grounded our admirable social practices. In this book Richard Rorty, like John Dewey before him, argues that the ONLY justification a political institution or social policy requires is that it WORKS. Look not to lofty origins, but to concrete results. Of course, American intellectuals who are politically liberal tend to value programs whose results promote human growth, personal liberty, and social solidarity. But their enthusiasm for such goods will be tinged with irony, since they realize that there's nothing universal about these preferences (had Socrates, Jesus, and Jefferson died in their cradles our list of desirable ends might look very different-- Rorty calls this contingency). This book concludes with the suggestion that in a liberal utopia the bourgeois distinction between the public and the private would be a strong one, thus freeing individuals to pursue their own private perfection, a project Rorty feels is sometimes threatened from extremists on the Left and on the Right. This is a wonderful book, but potential readers who are ignorant of 20th century intellectual history will probably find the opening chapters pretty rough going.
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am 27. Dezember 1999
It's certainly worth reading, but as a computer-oriented person, I still come back to forms, existence, and negation. Rorty still seems to think we can climb out of the Age of Enlightenment by abandoning the means by which we got there and then proceed to create this "classless" society, which derives from his notion of universal solidarity.
The arguments for contingency and irony seem to be a set up for solidarity in a makeshift humanitarian algebra. However, to me this universal idea of solidarity just doesn't jibe with his contingency and irony arguments. It's just an abstract and universal/utopian populism.
Yes, we are all pretty much stuck in our own point-of-view, but the contingencies themselves are evolving, such that universal solidarity is only as strong as the agreement/contingency that creates it; and that is tenuous at best. For example, one person's cruelty is another's useful discipline, without which society might fail to evolve; that is, all convicts see themselves as innocent, all prosecuters as protectors of a free people, etc.
Rorty also deals with general concepts, but doesn't want to get into an Aristotleian exegesis because it isn't useful. But putting it through those paces reveals it for what it is: a liar's paradox.
Reason still has a strong foundation, but its weaknesses need to be examined, as the practice is still "useful." Russell, Whitehead, and Godel have covered this in mathematics as Church and Turing have in computer science, and Heisenburg did in Physics. In the end, it devolves into an irrational justification for socialism, and since that has been, in part, responsible for 70 million deaths this century I think it's "useful" to rethink these ideas very carefully as the practice betrays the notion of solidarity...unless we want to engage in the mutually assured destruction policies of the '60s and find our universal solidarity in the death and extinction of humanity.
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am 2. April 1999
The basic assumption of this book is that truth is not "out there" and it discusses various consequences of this assumption, trying to combine this "ironist" viewpoint, with the "liberal" viewpoint that "cruelty should be avoided". Rorty makes various connections to the history of philosophy (Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger) and of literature (Proust, Nabokov, Orwell). Very interesting, profound and clearly written. A "must-read" even for people who do not agree with him.
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am 1. März 1998
In _Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity_, Rorty explores the end of objective realism due to linguistic faults in our language. I find Rorty's claims insightful and stimulating in this book, which is what we except from such a writer. In the book, Rorty examines the issue of our personal contingencies, and how the ideas that we have based on those contingencies should immediately placed under suspicion.
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am 22. April 2013
Sehr interessantes und auch beruehmtes Buch, lesbar geschrieben mit vielen sehr originellen Ideen. Zu wenig bekannt in Deutschland und Europa
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am 13. Mai 2000
To be frank, I don't feel Rorty contributes anything new as far a language, politics and philosophy goes. That being said however I think frames and articulates issues of contemporary thought better than anyone I've ever read.
In discussing areas that can get dense and abstract very quickly, Rorty frames the discussion clearly and concisely. Since reading this book I always try and fall back on his approach to the human language, both theoretically and pragmatically (if you'll excuse the pun).
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am 5. April 1999
An amiable work that skillfully countervails the pretentious self-importance that pervades the chic pseudo-disciplines of "culural studies," "deconstructionism," and whatever other shallow fare that is served up these days under the auspices of "post-modernism." However, readers of a genuinely philosophical temper may recoil at Rorty's glaringly tendentious engagement with the likes of Heidegger, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. Beneath the generally helpful suggestions concerning the self-image of non-theistic liberal intellectuals is a lot of fluff which passes for self-evident profundity among those lacking the severity appropriate to philosophers.
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am 31. August 1999
I like books, but this book was too complex. I read lots and lots of books, but Rorty's arguments are too confusing. Subjects on literature and politics and history are too hard to be put in the same book. I believe books like this are written for the elites who like books that are too complex for others who enjoy books on a normal basis like I.
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