This book is a study of Richard Rorty's "New Pragmatism" on its own terms, and a critical analysis of its implications for contemporary thought. As an anti-foundationalist and a liberal, Rorty's version of pragmatism is designed to promote personal freedom and democratic solidarity. Having as his target the stultifying effects of Western philo-scientific tradition, encrusted with the barnacles of metaphysical essentialism and epistemic foundationalism, Rorty writes to liberate the contemporary mind and to promote the growth of individual creativity and social tolerance. Admirable as the goals of greater personal creativity and tolerant solidarity are, it is Edward J. Grippe's contention that Rorty fails to achieve either of them. Liberated from the notion of essentialism, Rorty develops a vision of self that is radically unfettered in its originality. So, to forestall the misanthropy that would inevitably emerge, a "solidarity of forbearance" is to be inculcated. But given his anti-foundationalist stance, Rorty cannot appeal to a rational consensus to ground tolerance.
With only a Darwinian struggle between competing constructs, sophistic persuasion must be the deciding factor as to which narrative "works." And since there can be no ultimate or "final" vocabulary as arbiter, those that control the meaning of words control the basis for pragmatic conversation, i.e., what counts as "a working solidarity." Thus, the book concludes that Rorty's pragmatism is self-defeating, suppressing genuine conversation and ultimately constricting creativity.
Edward J. Grippe is Coordinator of Philosophical Studies at Norwalk Community College, Connecticut, USA. He is the author of numerous articles in Philosophy in the Contemporary World, and elsewhere.
Introduction; Part I.; 1. Overview: The Premises Underpinning Rorty's New Pragmatism; 2. The Foundational-Anti-Foundational Debate: Its Modern Roots; 3. The Contemporary Debate: The Epistemic Regress Challange of Foundationalism and its Ironic Impotence; Part II; 4. The Denial of Scientism and Performative Contradiction: The Aesthetics of Pragmatic Narratives; 5. Rorty's Jeffersonian Strategy: The Privatization of the Philosophical. 6. The Hermeneutical Approach and its Implication for Rorty's Jeffersonian Strategy; 7. Hobbes, Rorty and their Common Political Paradox; 8. Freud's and Rorty's Internal Cartesian Paradox; 9. Neither Liberal nor Free: The Singularism of New Pragmatism; Bibliography; Index.