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Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity [Kindle Edition]

Richard Rorty
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this 1989 book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual freedom of the ironic, philosophical perspective with the public project of human solidarity as it is engendered through the insights and sensibilities of great writers. The book has a characteristically wide range of reference from philosophy through social theory to literary criticism. It confirms Rorty's status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike.


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Review

"...bristles with big and unsettling ideas...No brief summary of this book can begin to convey its freshness, scope, and immense erudition...Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity will induce intellectual tingles in the philosopher and layman alike. It is going to be read for a long time." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is Rorty at his most stimulating, and he emerges as a major political theorist." Library Journal

"Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is not only readable, informative and ceaselessly interesting; it is a bold and topical manifest about the entire philosophical and political prospect of our 'post-modern' times. Jonathan Re'e Radical Philosophy

"...consistently provocative, and every page excites philosophic thought." Philosophy and Literature

"An exciting book. For millennia philosophers have been debating whether the universe is out there to be discovered or is rather in effect invented by thinkers who can never get beyond their own categories. Rorty is our most prominent perspectivist today....Rorty writes with erudition and style. His views are always stimulating, though they will inevitably tend to infuriate readers who are not ready for a 'postmetaphysical' world." H. L. Shapiro, Choice

Book Description

To understand what liberalism and human solidarity mean in terms of the human contingency and condition, Rorty examines literature, philosophy, social theory and literary criticism. This 1989 book confirms Rorty's status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 534 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0521367816
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (24 Feb. 1989)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AHTN47A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #341,484 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
After studying philosophy of science and social science for 2 years at degree level, and struggling to find words that said what I wanted, this book came as a huge relief to me.
Rorty sucessfully manages to cut a gulf between the idea of language as a tool and the descent into the popular misrepresentation that this is often given by people who misunderstand it.
"We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that truth is out there. To say that the world is out there, ..., is to say with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.... The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not."
Dazzlingly useful clarifications like this, which come on every page, make this one of the most rewarding books I have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Tenured Tower 18 Aug. 2014
By Rob
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rorty's book is interesting, but you have to be careful who you buy it from. I bought my new paperback copy from Aphrohead Books, but when later I discovered that 30 pages of the book were missing, neither the Amazon marketplace seller nor Amazon offered any help, much less a refund. Aphrohead were particularly obstructive, repeatedly referring me to Amazon in one-line emails. Buyer beware!

As for Rorty's book, well, he assumes that nominalism and historicism are the only truths while at the same time denying that there can be any privileged position from which to judge the world. He tries in a roundabout way to bully people into thinking that if you don't agree with his standpoint on the world, then you are voting for cruelty all round. That is just not true, though of course it could be. If as he also seems to claim our only salvation is in reading literature that will guide our responses towards properly human and humane forms of life, who is going to judge which novels should be in this new canon? He wants us all to read Dickens, Nabokov and Orwell, but what if people want to read 50 Shades of Grey and watch Dallas and Eastenders? Ultimately his is a version of Plato's Republic ruled by a guardian class of tenured professors. Philosophy is after all what professors do with their tenure.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 28 Sept. 2009
By Darran
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was magnificent, and I feel lucky that I happened to pick it up by chance. I never studied philosophy but I read it for my own personal enjoyment and development, and I have found this book to be the closest to my personal philosophy. He takes the good stuff from both Analytical and Continental philosophy. He thinks that literature is the best means we have of representing and understanding our world, which I agree with. He also finds a way to reconcile my love of cruel, elitist or anti-humanist writers and thinkers like Nietzsche and Nabokov with my instinctive liberal humanist feelings. A brilliant book.
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