Richard Rorty, rest in peace

A real hero of authentic, human, and humble attempts to figure out how to live and think: Richard Rorty, 1931-2007

Update: Jügen Habermas writes the eulogy:

…philosophy is there to reconcile the celestial beauty of orchids with Trotsky’s dream of justice on earth. Nothing is sacred to Rorty the ironist. Asked at the end of his life about the holy, the strict atheist answered with words reminiscent of the young Hegel: “My sense of the holy is bound up with the hope that some day my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law.”

Update 2: More great Rorty quotes from past interviews being published…

If there is anything to the idea that the best intellectual position is one which is attacked with equal vigour from the political right and the political left, then I am in good shape. I am often cited by conservative culture warriors as one of the relativistic, irrationalist, deconstructing, sneering, smirking intellectuals whose writings are weakening the moral fibre of the young. Neal Kozody, writing in the monthly bulletin of the Committee for the Free World, an organization known for its vigilance against symptoms of moral weakness, denounces my ‘cynical and nihilistic view’ and says ‘it is not enough for him [Rorty] that American students should be merely mindless; he would have them positively mobilized for mindlessness’. Richard Neuhaus, a theologian who doubts that atheists can be good American citizens, says that the ‘ironist vocabulary’ I advocate ‘can neither provide a public language for the citizens of a democracy, nor contend intellectually against the enemies of democracy, nor transmit the reasons for democracy to the next generation’. My criticisms of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind led Harvey Mansfield – recently appointed by President Bush to the National Council for the Humanities – to say that I have ‘given up on America’ and that I ‘manage to diminish even Dewey’. (Mansfield recently described Dewey as a ‘medium-sized malefactor’.) His colleague on the council, my fellow philosopher John Searle, thinks that standards can only be restored to American higher education if people abandon the views on truth, knowledge and objectivity that I do my best to inculcate.

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