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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature 1st Edition
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The most compelling critique of Rorty's thesis that I have read is contained in a little-known but highly enlightening and learned book by Peter Munz entitled "Our Knowledge of the Growth of Knowledge." Munz is a historian and philosopher who has the apparently unique distinction, at least among living scholars, of having been a student of both Karl Popper and Wittgenstein (in the 1940's). Munz acknowledges in his 1985 book that Rorty's book offers "the most sustained and reasoned defense of closed circles" yet written. Munz contends, however, that a careful reading of the book reveals that Rorty has implicitly treated Wittgenstein's own intellectual biography -- i.e., Wittgenstein's move from the "picture theory of meaning" of the "Tractatus" to the closed circle philosophy of his "Philosophical Investigations" -- as representative of the history of philosophy in the last four centuries. Rorty's use of this particular paradigm for his history is misguided, Munz says, because, among other things:
1) "Wittgenstein's 'Tractatus,' far from being symptomatic of mirror philosophy, is the only mirror philosophy ever put forward.Read more ›
Rorty makes repeated attacks on the correspondence theory of truth. Furthermore, he ties in his anti-essentialism into this in such a way that if you stand with him in denying the naive realist epistemology, you will begin be unable to see why people speak of "essence" or the ding-an-sich vs. it's representation. Rorty does not wish to make us into individualistic relativists who believe that however it is that we are appeared to defines what is true. Rather, he wants us to forget about the whole search for objective ahistorical truth--"Truth" that transcends our contingency. Also, Rorty engages in a tireless critique of the ocular metaphor that has pervaded Western philosophy from the beginning.
So, truth becomes, ceteris paribus, what our peers will let us get away with saying. This seems at least half-Wittgensteinian (of course, depending on how you interpret LW). In the process of deconstructing Western philosophy as the search for transcendental truth, Rorty uses, most notably, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Dewey.
Rorty's answer to the second issue dealt with in the book is that philosophers should try to "continue a conversation." Forget about metaphysics and all other metanarratives. We must guide ourselves by "our lights". Philosophy is more about settling disputes peaceably (thus inscreasing solidarity) and enjoying ourselves.Read more ›
I was deciding at the time that I liked philosophy and wanted to do it for a living if somehow I could, but I didn't really like the way that the American mainstream was heading. This was the time of Kripke and Putnam version 4.0, metaphysical realists who backed up their essentialism with logical proofs--though Putnam was already showing signs that he was about to switch to a new operating system. The philosophers I had liked best in my undergrad studies had been the ancient Skeptics, the pragmatists (neo- and paleo-), and the later Wittgenstein. Those figures presented what seemed to me understandable, stylish, ingenious, and above all practically helpful ways of thinking about knowledge, humanity, and morality. But neo-medievalists like Kripke were fighting those ideas as hard as they could, providing backup to all the sticks-in-the-mud who had never liked that all arty Quine and Goodman stuff anyway. American philosophy was going to stay logical and technically difficult; it would remain a professional field separate from--and, by and large, of little importance to--other kinds of inquiry.
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature disturbed the peace of the cloister. It dealt with all the formidable logical issues in a way nobody expected: namely, historically. It showed how much of the difficult logical reasoning in the philosophy journals was careful reinvention of . . .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Richard McKay Rorty (1931-2007) was an American philosopher, who taught at Princeton, the University of Virginia, Stanford University, etc. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steven H Propp
A monumental work in contemporary philosophy that changed my worldview considerably. Recommended for everyone, particularly for those interested in merging continental and analytic... Read morePublished 13 months ago by sparky
Rorty. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature provides an interesting read and an interesting discussion of issues of present day epistemology. Read morePublished on September 29, 2012 by philip herdina
Published in 1981 Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (PMN) has become something of a classic in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. Read morePublished on September 10, 2008 by Reader From Aurora
Rorty writes well and if you met him, you know he was a clever guy and a nice guy. But as a philosopher he is a good gardener. Read morePublished on December 23, 2007 by Jack Flack
"Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature" is Richard Rorty's magnum opus, his manifesto for a new philosophy and a new philosophical language. Read morePublished on September 19, 2007 by M. A. Krul
...for any philosophy student or grad student. I say this not because I think the book is the final word or the solution to every philosophical problem, but because it is a classic... Read morePublished on June 29, 2005 by Casey Opdahl
Richard Rorty's agenda is about deconstructing the judeo-christian civilization. This desire he shares with men like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Jacques Derrida and... Read morePublished on December 18, 2001 by Jonatas Machado