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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1989 And All That, 20 Dec 1998
By A Customer
"Truth and Progress" is divided into three sections, the first part a sequence of essays on analytic philosophers, the second two consisting of essays on various topics, often addressed to the academic Left. It isn't too much to say that all of these essays might very well be thought of as scoldings of these two groups. I don't have much familiarity with analytic philosophy, however, so I won't say anything about that section, other than to say that if you ARE an analytic philosopher, you probably aren't going to like what Rorty says, but you probably knew that already. On then to the second two parts. These sections are identical in some respects, for in them Rorty berates academic Leftism. This is not as banal as it might appear, for what is motivating Rorty is this question: "What is behind the regret we [he means intellectuals] feel when we are forced to conclude that bourgeois democratic welfare states are the best we can hope for?" ("The End of Leninism" 231). What he means is, the role of the "intellectual" in the West seems to have come to an end after the events of 1989, because afterwards the idea of Revolution, on Lenin's model, has become laughable. So the intellectual, who has always thought to have done better in that sort of regime than in a democratic one, has lost a cherished fantasy--a fantasy that is not just a leftist one, but one shared, one supposes, by virtually anyone who has ever had a brain, because a great sustaining thought for most of these people is the idea that at some point, history will redeem them. But that fantasy is over, Rorty says, and so what his question means is, "what now?" It is for this reason, more than any other, that I think Rorty's book is worth buying, for what he is trying to think about is the very idea of the worth of "intellectual life" at all. I for one think that this question is extremely serious, and not likely to disappear anytime soon. If you would like to read the opening cannon shots of what might be a long (or possibly, extremely short) debate, read this book.
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