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Philosophy as Poetry by Richard Rorty

Philosophy as Poetry by Richard Rorty We know that there is psychological time (“eternity is a very long time especially toward the end”), cultural time (no two events can happen simultaneously, for the Hopi, unless the two can be observed together), physical time (the hands on your watch moving), biological time (damn insomnia!), and the scales of evolutionary, geological, cosmological, and historical recordings. But can we undo time in our minds or otherwise stop it? How should it really be measured, and why? Read this melancholy masterwork and take the time to muse. — Oren Harman doi 10.1215/0961754X-4254096 Richard Rorty, Philosophy as Poetry (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016), 96 pp. Enough time has elapsed since the delivery of these three slim lectures in 2004 to suggest that its author has not effected the radical change in either the con - cerns or the mode of philosophical conversation that was the aim of this, and indeed of all his, writing; and reading them so belatedly offers a retrospective purchase on his body of work that suggests why. Rorty’s advocacy of originality quickly acquired a monotonous air; his declared desire for fresh conversation coexisted with an apparent inability to allow his interlocutors to surprise him; and his use of language became lax and superc fi ial rather than flexible and subversive. Take the words composing this work’s title: if we assume that the title character- izes the work itself as well as its subject — so that this book embodies the ideal it advances — then its chosen mode of presenting the claim that poetic philosophy would be a productive synthesis of Romanticism and Pragmatism actually di-s closes a rather unimaginative tendency to identify poetry with the Romantics and to reduce nonpoetic philosophy’s struggles over human finitude with a sheer denial of it. As a way of getting beyond the ancient quarrel, neither contending party is likely to regard these one- dimensional redescriptions as attracting them toward an amicable conclusion; neither the poet nor the philosopher will feel that a greater, emancipatory circle has been drawn around their current endeavors on the basis of a genuine understanding of what engendered their existing circle of concerns. A revolutionary vision might be persuasive despite struggling for a time actually to persuade: but how long must that struggle persist before the genuine pragmatist is forced to conclude that this way of trying to change the topic has proven to be truly unconvincing? — Stephen Mulhall doi 10.1215/0961754X-4254108 Downloaded from https://read.dukeupress.edu/common-knowledge/article-pdf/24/1/168/518239/0240168.pdf by DEEPDYVE INC user on 22 August 2019 C OM MO N K N O W L E D G E 16 8 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

Philosophy as Poetry by Richard Rorty

Common Knowledge , Volume 24 (1) – Jan 1, 2018

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Copyright
Copyright © 2017 Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-4254108
Publisher site
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Abstract

We know that there is psychological time (“eternity is a very long time especially toward the end”), cultural time (no two events can happen simultaneously, for the Hopi, unless the two can be observed together), physical time (the hands on your watch moving), biological time (damn insomnia!), and the scales of evolutionary, geological, cosmological, and historical recordings. But can we undo time in our minds or otherwise stop it? How should it really be measured, and why? Read this melancholy masterwork and take the time to muse. — Oren Harman doi 10.1215/0961754X-4254096 Richard Rorty, Philosophy as Poetry (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016), 96 pp. Enough time has elapsed since the delivery of these three slim lectures in 2004 to suggest that its author has not effected the radical change in either the con - cerns or the mode of philosophical conversation that was the aim of this, and indeed of all his, writing; and reading them so belatedly offers a retrospective purchase on his body of work that suggests why. Rorty’s advocacy of originality quickly acquired a monotonous air; his declared desire for fresh conversation coexisted with an apparent inability to allow his interlocutors to surprise him; and his use of language became lax and superc fi ial rather than flexible and subversive. Take the words composing this work’s title: if we assume that the title character- izes the work itself as well as its subject — so that this book embodies the ideal it advances — then its chosen mode of presenting the claim that poetic philosophy would be a productive synthesis of Romanticism and Pragmatism actually di-s closes a rather unimaginative tendency to identify poetry with the Romantics and to reduce nonpoetic philosophy’s struggles over human finitude with a sheer denial of it. As a way of getting beyond the ancient quarrel, neither contending party is likely to regard these one- dimensional redescriptions as attracting them toward an amicable conclusion; neither the poet nor the philosopher will feel that a greater, emancipatory circle has been drawn around their current endeavors on the basis of a genuine understanding of what engendered their existing circle of concerns. A revolutionary vision might be persuasive despite struggling for a time actually to persuade: but how long must that struggle persist before the genuine pragmatist is forced to conclude that this way of trying to change the topic has proven to be truly unconvincing? — Stephen Mulhall doi 10.1215/0961754X-4254108 Downloaded from https://read.dukeupress.edu/common-knowledge/article-pdf/24/1/168/518239/0240168.pdf by DEEPDYVE INC user on 22 August 2019 C OM MO N K N O W L E D G E 16 8

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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