Transcending philosophy Remembering Richard Rorty, pragmatist thinker, who died recently. SHELLEY WALIA The Hindu Magazine Sunday, Jul 08, 2007
Philosophy finally came to be regarded by philosophers like Rorty as modes of responding to an ever-changing world, a commentary that would take us towards a perceptive understanding of our existence, not just a critical assessment that authoritatively asserts to know all truth. An overarching grand theory of life is thus not possible, and the anti-philosophical view that Rorty generated in contemporary philosophy is one step towards the appreciation of relativity and the contingency of one’s fundamental beliefs and desires. It is for this reason that he valorises the study of literature and the role of the poet, thereby giving this world of fiction a privileged value than philosophy. Poetry, Rorty strongly felt, was responsible for bringing about an improved world to live in where objective truths are too hegemonic for an individual who enjoys the free dance of ideas and the on-going dialogue where opposing views merely jostle against each other, but never seek any prioritisation. Here lies Rorty’s post-philosophical juxtaposing of the beautiful and the just, of Wild Orchids and Trotsky (the title of an autobiographical narrative by Rorty), a robust dream of a world in which Rorty visualised the prevale nce of ‘love as the only law’.