Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism

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Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism

"Provocative and engaging...The array of urgent questions and crises facing our democracy makes one miss Richard Rorty's voice: insistent, relentlessly questioning, and dedicated to the proposition that we can't afford to let our democracy fail."
--Chris Lehmann, New Republic

"Richard Rorty was the most iconoclastic and dramatic philosopher of the last half-century. In this final book, his unique literary style, singular intellectual zest, and demythologizing defiance of official philosophy are on full display."
--Cornel West

"Coherent, often brilliant, and it presents a clear and timely case for political pragmatism."
--Jonathan Rée, Prospect

"Today, there are few philosophers left whose thoughts are inspired by a unifying vision; there are even fewer who can articulate such a view in terms of such a ravishing flow of provocative, but sharp and differentiated, arguments."
--Jürgen Habermas

Richard Rorty's final masterwork offers his culminating thoughts on the influential version of pragmatism he began to articulate decades ago in his groundbreaking Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. He identifies anti-authoritarianism as the principal impulse and virtue of pragmatism. Anti-authoritarianism, in this view, means acknowledging that our cultural inheritance is always open to revision because no authority exists to ascertain the truth, once and for all. If we cannot rely on the unshakable certainties of God or nature, then all we have left to go on--and argue with--are the opinions and ideas of our fellow humans. The test of these ideas, Rorty suggests, is relatively simple: Do they work? Do they produce the peace, freedom, and happiness we desire? To achieve this enlightened pragmatism is not easy, though. Pragmatism demands trust. It demands that we think and care about what others think and care about, and that we account for their doubts of and objections to our own beliefs.

No book offers a more accessible account of pragmatism, just as no philosopher has more eloquently challenged the hidebound traditions arrayed against the goals of social justice.

Publication Date: 
June 1, 2024