RE: MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

From: Kevin (
Date: Mon Feb 10 2003 - 21:00:13 GMT

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    Platt quotes various sources:

    "The best rebuttal to this suggestion is Oscar Wilde's "The soul of man
    under socialism". The message of that essay parallels those of Mill's
    On Liberty and of Rawls' A Theory of Justice. It is that the only point
    getting rid of the priests and the kings, of setting up democratic
    governments, of taking from each according to her abilities and giving
    each according to her needs, and of thereby creating the Good Global
    Society, is to make it possible for people to lead the sort of lives
    prefer, as long as their doing so does not diminish the opportunities of

    other humans to do the same thing." (The Decline of Redemptive Truth
    and the Rise of Literary Culture)

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

    "Socialism, Communism, or whatever one chooses to call it, by
    converting private property into public wealth, and substituting co-
    operation for competition, will restore society to its proper condition
    of a
    thoroughly healthy organism, and insure the material well being of each
    member of the community. (the soul of man under socialism)

    "In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your
    property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend."

    Platt concludes:
    Will leftist intellectuals like Rorty ever learn? If not from Pirsig, at
    from the millions of slaughtered dissidents rotting in unmarked graves
    Eastern Europe, Russia, Cambodia, Cuba, China, Vietnam and North

    You seem to have completely misread the Rorty quote. Not only drawn it
    out of context, but completely ignored it's content as well.

    As to context, Rorty is speaking to the claim that his idea of a
    Literary Culture would be inherently decadent and "a culture of languid
    and self-involved aesthetes". He points out several authors who would
    demonstrate that it is not necessary for society to be based on uniform
    ideas of Foundational Morality in order to achieve a utopia. Namely,
    Wilde, Mill, and Rawls. Now reread the quotation from Rorty and you see
    that he is saying that the point of each of these positions comes to a
    similar conclusion. Namely, the point of each approach (Wilde, Mill or
    Rawls) is the same goal--The Good Global Society.

    In other words, we need not divine the Ultimate Answer To Life, The
    Universe And Everything in order to work towards making an ideal society
    for ourselves. In fact, arguing over the Ultimate Answer (as the
    foundation for such a society) is probably the Ultimate Obstacle to
    building such a society for ourselves.

    "For we humans need not agree about the Nature or the End of Man in
    order to help facilitate our neighbor's ability to act on her own
    convictions on these matters, just so long as those actions do not
    interfere with our freedom to act on our own convictions."

    So the true goal of our effort towards a Good Global Society is "to make
    it possible for people to lead the sort of lives they prefer, as long as
    their doing so does not diminish the opportunities of other humans to do
    the same thing" and a common agreement on Metaphysics isn't necessary to
    achieve this.

    Later on in the essay, Rorty also says:
    "In utopia, the religious or philosophical need to live up to the
    non-human, and the need of the literary intellectuals to explore the
    present limits of the human imagination will be viewed as matters of
    taste. They will be viewed by non-intellectuals in the same relaxed,
    tolerant and uncomprehending way that we presently regard our neighbor's
    obsession with birdwatching, or macrame, or collecting hubcaps, or
    discovering the secrets of the Great Pyramid."

    Insidious isn't it? All that Liberty and Individualism....

    I suspect that Platt suffers from apoplectic rage whenever he notices
    certain words within a conversation (socialism, communism, Marx, etc)
    and simply refuses to see how these terms are being used to illustrate a
    larger point. Even when they are in the same sentence that praises
    "setting up democratic governments".

    Will yellow-dog Right Wingers ever learn? If not from Rorty or Pirsig,
    at least from the millions living in peace and prosperity in Canada,
    France, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, etc...

    At any rate, I hope anyone curious will read the Rorty essay in
    question. It's a wonderful argument for not waiting for the Ultimate
    Answer before we begin to build a better society for ourselves. In
    short, it's a call to "practicality" and "action" rather than debate,
    much like Mari and others have been making.


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