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1 - Rorty’s Metaphilosophy: A Pluralistic Corridor

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2021

David Rondel
Affiliation:
University of Nevada, Reno
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Summary

One of the most remarkable aspects of Richard Rorty’s legacy is the sheer variety of the philosophical imprint from which has thought was formed. His thought not only ranged across Analytic, Continental, and of course Pragmatist philosophy but extended as well into engagements with history, literary criticism, and a wealth of novels. Rorty’s command of such a wide philosophical range is expressive of a kind of metaphilosophical pluralism that was largely missing in his own philosophical milieu and which continues to be sorely needed today. This essay characterizes Rorty’s metaphilosophical pluralism. It begins with an excavation of Rorty’s metaphilosophy in terms of his signature idea of vocabularies. With this in view, it then turns to a neglected source for Rorty’s metaphilosophical pluralism. This source is found in an unexpected branch within philosophical pragmatism, namely that of his onetime teacher, Richard McKeon. Like other pluralisms that preceded his, Rorty’s metaphilosophy will be of enormous value just so long as philosophy remains unsettled about how to account for its disagreements, which is to say just so long as philosophy generates needs for addressing metaphilosophical questions, which is effectively to say just so long as there is such a thing as philosophy.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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