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The Tenured Tower
on 18 August 2014
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.