Re: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

Date: Sun Feb 09 2003 - 17:49:14 GMT

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism"

    I thought I would offer some quotes from Rorty defining his brand of
    pragmatism. The first thing to keep in mind is that Rorty doesn't consider
    himself as the originator of any of these specific ideas. In an interview
    with Joshua Knobe for "The dualist", he says,

    "I don't have any original ideas. I think that all I do is pick up bits of
    Derrida and bits of Dewey and put them next to each other and bits of
    Davidson and bits of Wittgenstein and stuff like that. Its just a talent
    for bricolage, rather than originality. If you don't have an original
    mind, you comment on what people do."

    The following quotes are from the Preface and Introduction to “Philosophy
    and Social Hope.”

    "'Platonism' in the sense in which I use the term does not denote the (very
    complex, shifting, dubiously consistent) thoughts of the genius who wrote
    'Dialogues.' Instead it refers to a set of philosophical distinctions
    (appearance-reality, matter-mind, made-found, sensible-intellectual, etc):
    What Dewey called 'a broad and nest of dualisms.'" pg xii

    "Dewey thought, as I do, that the vocabulary which centers around these
    traditional distinctions has become an obstacle to our social hopes." pg

    "I want to denote the quest for knowledge from a status of end-in-itself to
    that of one more means toward greater human happiness." pg xiii

    "My candidate for the most distinctive and praiseworthy human capacity is
    our ability to trust and cooperate with other people, and in particular to
    work together so as to improve the future." pg xii

    "[On] our chances of achieving a democratic utopia. For various reasons…I
    think these chances are pretty dim. But I do not think that is a reason to
    change our political goal. There is no more worthy project at hand; we
    have nothing better to do with our lives." pg xii

    "I think that 'relativism' and 'postmodernism' are words which never had
    any clear sense, and that both should be dropped from our philosophical
    vocabulary." pg xiv

    "Serious discussion of any of these four philosophers [Heidegger, Derrida,
    James, Dewey] is only possible if one does not assume that lack of an
    appearance-reality distinction entails that every action or belief is as
    good as every other." pg xiv

    "I hope...[to] convince people that relativism is a bug bear, and that the
    real question about the utility of the old platonic dualisms is whether or
    not their deployment weakens our sense of human solidarity. I read Dewey
    as saying that discarding these dualisms will bring us together, by
    enabling us to realize that trust, social cooperation and social hope are
    where our humanity begins and ends." pg xv

    "The epithet 'relativist' is applied to philosophers who agree with
    Niezsche that 'truth' is the will to be master of the multiplicity of
    sensations. It is also applied to those who agree with William James that
    'the true' is simply the expedient in the way of believing and those who
    agree with Thomas Kuhn that science should not be thought of as moving
    toward an accurate representation of the way the world is in itself." pg

    "One way to describe the impasse [pragmatist-Platonist/realism] is to say
    we so-called 'relativists' claim that many of the things which common sense
    thinks are found or discovered are really made or invented." pg xvii

    "So when our Platonist or Kantian opponents are tired of calling us
    'relativist' they call us 'subjectivists' or 'social constructionists.' In
    their picture of the situation, we are claiming to have discovered that
    something which was suppose to come from outside us really comes from
    inside us. They think of us as saying that what was previously thought to
    be objective has turned out to be merely subjective." pg xvii

    "I think it is important that we who are accused of relativism stop using
    the distinctions between finding and making, discovery and invention,
    objective and subjective." pg xvii

    "The distinction between the found and the made is a version of that
    between the absolute and the relative, between something which is what is
    apart from its relations to other things and something whose nature depends
    on those relations." pg xvii

    "We anti-Platonists cannot permit ourselves to be called 'relativists',
    since that description begs the central question. That central question is
    about the utility of the vocabulary which we have inherited from Plato and
    Aristotle." pg xvii

    "Our ancestors climbed up a ladder which we are now in a position to throw
    away. We can throw it away not because we have reached a final resting
    place, but because we have different problems to solve than those which
    perplexed our ancestors." pg xxii

    "Pragmatists hope to break with the picture which in Wittgenstein's words,
    'hold us captive' -- the Cartesian-Lockean picture of a mind seeking to get
    in touch with a reality outside itself. So they start with a Darwiniam
    account of human beings as animals doing their best to cope with the
    environment -- doing their best to develop tools which will enable them to
    enjoy more pleasure and less pain. Words are among the tools which these
    clever animals developed." pg xxiii

    "To see the employment of words as the use of tools to deal with the
    environment, rather than as an attempt to represent the intrinsic nature of
    that environment, is to repudiate the question of whether human minds are
    in touch with reality -- the question asked by the epistemological
    skeptic." pg xxiii

    "So to rid our thinking of the vestiges of Cartesianism, to become fully
    Darwinian in our thinking, we need to stop using words as representations
    and to start think of them as nodes in a causal network which binds the
    organism together with the environment." pg xxiii

    "To attribute beliefs and desires to non-users of language (such as dogs,
    infants, and thermostats) is, for us pragmatists, to speak metaphorically.”
    pg xxiv

    "...there is no point in asking whether a belief represents reality, either
    mental reality or physical reality [or political, social, moral]
    accurately. That is for pragmatists, not only a bad question, but the root
    of much wasted philosophical energy. …The right question to ask is 'For
    what purposes would it be useful to hold that belief?'" pg xxiv

    "...pragmatists think that the right question to ask about our beliefs is
    not whether they are about reality or merely an appearance, but simply
    whether they are the best habits of action for gratifying our desires." pg

    "We pragmatists cannot make sense of the idea that we should pursue truth
    for its own sake. We cannot regard truth as a goal of inquiry. The
    purpose of inquiry is to achieve agreement among human beings about what to
    do, to bring about consensus on the ends to be achieved and the means used
    to achieve those ends. Inquiry that does not achieve coordination of
    behavior is not inquiry but simply wordplay." pg xxv

    "So, for pragmatists there is no sharp distinction between natural and
    social sciences, nor between politics, philosophy and literature. All
    areas of culture are parts of the same endeavor to make life better. There
    is no deep split between theory and practice, because on a pragmatist view
    all so-called 'theory' which is not wordplay is always already practice."
    pg xxv

    "But to us pragmatists moral struggle is continuous with the struggle for
    existence, and no sharp break divides the unjust from the imprudent, the
    evil from the inexpedient. What matters for pragmatists is devising ways
    of diminishing human suffering and increasing human equality, increasing
    the ability of all human children to start life with an equal chance at
    happiness. This goal is not written in the stars, and is no more an
    expression of what Kant called ‘pure practical reason’ than it is the will
    of god. It is a goal worth dying for, but it does not require backup from
    supernatural forces." pg xxix

    I hope this might increase the understanding of “Rorty’s pragmatism.” It
    is rare when you can find a philosopher that seems to speak directly to
    you. I know Pirsig seemed to be speaking to me when I read ZMM and Lila.
    I thank Matt for leading me to Rorty, for I find he also seems to speak
    directly to me. For that, I am in complete support of Matt’s project to
    bring the ideas of Rorty and Pirsig together.


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archive -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Feb 09 2003 - 17:49:45 GMT