Re: MD Rorty and Darwin

From: Steve Peterson (
Date: Sat Aug 16 2003 - 15:56:56 BST

  • Next message: james marshall: "Re: MD A metaphysics"

    Hi Matt,

    I getting a better picture of Rorty's claim that pragmatism starts with a
    Darwinian picture of the word.

    In explaining that there is no truth with a Truth Tribunal to judge, only
    justification he said (p38, 'philosophy and social hope'):

    "But, given a Darwinian picture of the world, there can be no such tribunal.
    For such a tribunal would have to envisage all the alternatives to a given
    belief, and know everything that was relevant to criticism of every such
    alternative. Such a tribunal would have to have what Putnam calls a 'God's
    eye view'...If Darwin is right, we can no more make sense of the idea of
    such a tribunal than we can make sense of the idea that biological evolution
    has an aim. Biological evolution produces ever new species, and cultural
    evolution produces ever new audiences, but there is no such thing as the
    species which evolution has in view, nor any such thing as the 'aim of

    I don't understand how a pragmatist gets to say things like "if Darwin is
    right..." or "given a Darwinian picture of the world..." How could Darwin
    be right if there is no truth? Rorty doesn't seem to realize that he has a
    metaphysics, that he presupposes something about the nature of reality when
    he embraces Darwin.

    It is perhaps understandable for Rorty who may never have read Pirsig, but
    for anyone who has, I can't imagine how one would choose Darwin's evolution
    of substance over Pirsig's evolution of quality.


    "To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous
    as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin."
    Cardinal Bellarmino 1615, during the trial of Galileo

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