Re: MD Unofficial Rorty Dictionary

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun Sep 29 2002 - 15:45:17 BST

Hi Sam:
> I think Matt is correct in saying to Platt: "You interpret Pirsig as a
> systematic philosopher, one who indulges in universal truths", or, to put
> it in Rorty's terms, as one who seeks Redemptive Truth (extract below).

Agree. But Rorty also seeks Redemptive Truth by affirming his own
version of "the Truth." (See comment below.)

> My view - and I think Matt's view - is that Pirsig declines to go down this
> route in ZMM, but indulges in it, whilst admitting that it is degenerate,
> because it is 'fun', in Lila. ("What Lila is to ZMM is Pirsig's attempt to
> couch some of his insights into an overarching theory.")

Haven't read ZMM in a long time but in that book didn't Pirsig make a
universal split he called classic and romantic, a split he specifically
abandoned in Lila for Dynamic and static.?
> Has there been any discussion of this contradiction between Zen and Lila? I
> think between you you've put your finger on something important, which,
> frankly, is the sort of thing this forum should be looking at, as opposed
> to anti-Bush comments (which I am as guilty of indulging in as anyone, mea
> culpa).
> I'm going to re-read ZMM next week, to see if I can bring this
> contradiction into clearer focus.

I look forward to learning whatever you glean from a re-reading of ZMM.
But I think many of his positions he took in ZMM he later changed,
rejected and otherwise revised in Lila, the split cited above being the
main one. His more recent views as expressed in Lila and Lila's Child
are more reflective of his current thinking wouldn't you say?
> Rorty: "Redemptive truth would not consist in theories about how things
> interact causally, but instead would fulfill the need that religion and
> philosophy have attempted to satisfy. This is the need to fit
> everything-every thing, person, event, idea and poem --into a single
> context, a context which will somehow reveal itself as natural, destined,
> and unique. It would be the only context that would matter for purposes of
> shaping our lives, because it would be the only one in which those lives
> appear as they truly are. To believe in redemptive truth is to believe that
> there is something that stands to human life as elementary physical
> particles stand to the four elements-something that is the reality behind
> the appearance, the one true description of what is going on, the final
> secret." (from Rorty's paper on his website)
An accurate description of Rorty's own theory, his need to put
everything into his postmodern, pragmatic "context."


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