Re: MD Metaphysics and Pragmatism

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Wed Feb 19 2003 - 00:55:56 GMT

  • Next message: Matt the Enraged Endorphin: "Re: MD About Quality."


    Platt said:
    But Pirsig--like Rorty, like you,
    like me-- could be wrong. He's admitted as much. I'd like to see Rorty
    do the same.

    Is that all you want? Well, hell, I coulda' produced that ages ago.
    Unfortunately, I can't find the best places where he says outright,
    roughly, "History may show that pragmatism is one more stepping stone on
    the way towards something else," but this is kinda' close:

    "It [following Hegel in describing "our own community and our own
    philosophical views in terms of parochial, temporary, contingent needs"]
    would lead one, for example, to put forward an account of truth not as
    something that clears up all difficulties or removes all obscurities
    connected with the topic, but as something useful in clearing up _our_
    difficulties and removing _our_ obscurities. If one claims that a theory
    of truth is what works better than any competing theory, one is saying that
    it works better by reference to _our_ purposes, _our_ particular situation
    in intellectual history. One is not claiming that that was how it would
    have paid, always and everywhere, to have thought of truth. It is simply
    what it would be best for _us_ to believe about truth. Taken as part of an
    overall philosophical outlook, such a theory would be part of an attempt to
    hold _our_ age in thought." ("Dewey Between Hegel and Darwin")

    Rorty's hope and prediction is that pragmatism is our age held in thought.
    He does recognize, though, that we will have to let go of certain things
    from the past, particularly those things that Nietzsche characterized as
    "metaphysical comforts."

    "John Dewey once quoted G. K. Chesterton's remark that '[p]ragmatism is a
    matter of human needs and one of the first of human needs is to be
    something more than a pragmatist.' Chesterton had a point, and Dewey
    granted it. Dewey was quite aware of what he called 'a supposed necessity
    of the "human mind" to believe in certain absolute truths.' But he thought
    that this necessity had existed only in an earlier stage of human history,
    a stage we might now move beyond. He thought that we had reached a point
    at which it might be possible, and helpful, to wrench ourselves free of it.
     He recognized that his suggestion was counterintuitive and would meet the
    kind of opposition Searle mounts. But he thought that the long-run good
    done by getting rid of outdated needs would outweigh the temporary
    disturbance caused by attempts to change our philosophical intuitions."
    ("John Searle on Realism and Relativism")

    So it's not the case that Rorty thinks he's penetrated past appearances and
    figured out how things really are by saying that there are no "things as
    they really are". He's providing one more philosophical picture just as
    other philosophers like Pirsig do. The difference between pragmatist
    philosophers and realist philosophers is that realist philosophers believe
    there is one True and Correct picture of things. Pragmatists think that
    there are an infinite number of pictures. On the realist view, the
    philosopher's job is to figure out what the True and Correct picture of
    things is. On the pragmatist view, it is the job of the philosopher to try
    and provide the picture that would best fit our needs. I've been pushing a
    pragmatist reading of Pirsig because I believe Pirsig shows both
    tendencies. We should just read out his realist tendencies and promote the
    pragmatist ones.


    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Feb 19 2003 - 00:57:19 GMT