Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 24, 1989 - Philosophy - 201 pages
5 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.
 

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Contingency, irony, and solidarity

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Rorty propounds, and faces squarely the consequences of, a relativistic, non-essentialist view of man and society. For him, attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices are contingent phenomena of a ... Read full review

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Contents

The contingency of language
3
The contingency of selfhood
23
The contingency of a liberal community
44
Private irony and liberal hope
73
Selfcreation and affiliation Proust Nietzsche and Heidegger
96
From ironist theory to private allusions Derrida
122
The barber of Kasbeam Nabokov on cruelty
141
The last intellectual in Europe Orwell on cruelty
169
Solidarity
189
Index of names
199
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Banal Nationalism
Michael Billig
Limited preview - 1995
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About the author (1989)

Richard Rorty (1931 2007) was Professor of Comparative Literature and Philosophy at Stanford University.

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