Rorty Sporty

by Tom on August 25, 2003

If you’ve ever put in hard time trying to make sense of the writings of Richard Rorty, you’ll probably get some harmless giggles out of this deliciously silly poem that Norman Geras has managed to acquire, Bob Woodward-style, from a poet who wishes to remain anonymous. Here’s a taste:

Richie Rorty, Richie Rorty,
Naught he hadn’t read, it seems.
Heidegger and Nietzsche brought he,
Both, to feature in his schemes,

Next to others not so warty:
Caught he Dickens, Proust and Yeats,
Kundera and Orwell. Sought he
To cavort with them as mates.

Since I’m at it, I recall that the Philosophical Lexicon provided us with this useful definition:

a rortiori, adj. For even more obscure and fashionable Continental reasons.



Verbal 08.26.03 at 3:37 pm

Hey now! “Achieving Our Country” was both concise and clear. Even a Ph.D. of Philosophy such as I was able to read it and understand (I hope) what he was saying.

Not only that, it was far to oriented toward practical application of ideas to be anywhere near ‘Continental’ in its leanings. Really, that’s unnecessarily cruel.

Although funny, in an obscure-joke-shared-amongst-intellectuals kind of way.



Tom 08.26.03 at 8:53 pm

Oh dear – I’m sending myself to the back of the class to wear a big dunce’s hat. I’ve not read ‘Achieving our Country’, I fear.

My efforts at Rortying have only taken me as far as ‘Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’ and ‘Contingency, Irony and Solidarity’ (plus a few other scattered articles). There were bits of PMN I found thought-provoking, but CIS just made me cross.

I suppose the trouble is that it’s pretty hard to deny that Rorty is both extremely clever and extraordinarily well-read, and indeed that moral and political philosophy shouldn’t shut itself off from literature in the way that the more scientistic practitioners appear to suppose.

But by the time of CIS my impression was that Rorty, who certainly knows one end of an argument from another, had pretty much stopped trying to give reasons for his positions, and that really annoyed the hell out of me.

Hence the rather peevish tone of that post.


Sander 08.26.03 at 10:28 pm

The only thing I’ve read of him is a Penguin collection called “Philosophy and social hope”, which was surprisingly clear and simple (even for a non-academic like me), so much so that in it he seems to jokingly hint “look, it’s become so simple it might as well not be philosophy anymore.”

Not being an academic, I don’t know if that’s a good thing. But it was pretty convincing, all in all.

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