Monday, June 11, 2007

Bullshit or Not: Richard Rorty Edition

This week, philosophy lost a giant. Richard Rorty is dead. He was a fun character because he was explosive without being nasty. His arguments clean and tight for conclusions that HAD to be wrong. Few could get under the skins of philosophers in the way Rorty could. So it is only fitting that instead of an obit, we feature one of his quotations in our "bullshit or not" format.

[W]hat profit can we derive from a description of a part of the culture that, instead of simply explaining its social utility, or determining the degree of consensus that obtains within it, goes on to consider its relation to reality? For the "postmodern" philosophers and the pragmatists (among whom I number myself) the traditional questions of metaphysics and epistemology can be neglected because they have no social utility. It is not that they are devoid of meaning, nor that they rest on false premises; it is simply that the vocabulary of metaphysics and epistemology is of no practical use. (What's the Use of Truth? pp. 37-8)
So in the post-Dover world in which there is an institutional, politically motivated attack on science and Creation museums drawing headlines, is it really true that the vocabulary of philosophy, including the notion of capital T Truth, is of no social utility? Is analytic philosophy obsolete because it has nothing to has nothing to contribute to daily life?

Bullshit or not, you decide.

As usual, feel free to leave comments from a single word to as long as needed to explain your position.