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Remembering Rorty

Rorty ditched his early positivism for an open-minded and iconoclastic pragmatism that irritated as many as it inspired

By prospect   July 2007

The American philosopher Richard Rorty, who died on 8th June at the age of 75, was the greatest philosophical essayist of his time. As a student at Chicago University in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he fell in love with the corrosive style of philosophy associated with Rudolf Carnap and became what might loosely be called a scientific positivist. He regarded himself as part of a valiant movement to eradicate old-fashioned capital-letter concepts like God, Mind and Spirit and replace them with dispassionate logical analysis of the “languages” or “conceptual frameworks” through which human beings view the world. These…

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