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Richard Rorty's Politics : Liberalism at the End of the American Century

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-12-01
  • Publisher: Humanity Books
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Much of what Richard Rorty has to say about the triumph of American liberalism is largely accepted and unquestioned by a wide variety of scholars. Yet there are inconsistencies in Rorty's work and his defense of liberalism does not depend on familiar Enlightenment assumptions about reason, human nature, historical progress, and the like. So argues Markar Melkonian, who critically examines Rorty's brand of liberalism stripped of its Enlightenment rationales.

Melkonian initially compares Rorty's social and political views with his alleged progenitor, John Dewey, showing there are significant differences between the two, notably their respective conceptions of freedom and democracy and their accounts of how to harmonize personal freedom with public responsibility. Then Melkonian makes the case that the existing liberal democracies Rorty wants to defend bear little resemblance to Rorty's own liberal utopia, in which "the quest for autonomy is impeded as little as possible by social institutions."

Melkonian asserts that at the end of the American century, Rorty'

Author Biography

Markar Melkonian is a writer, teacher, and veteran solidarity worker. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is currently director of a nonprofit organization that provides aid to inhabitants of Armenia, a war-ravaged corner of the former Soviet Union.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7(4)
Introduction 11(10)
Framing the Conversation
Three Anti-Isms
Rorty's ``We's''
Strategic Considerations
Departures from Dewey
Dewey and the Public/Private Split
Dewey on Liberty and Democracy
Rorty on Liberty and Democracy
Freedom and Liberalism in Practice
Depicting the Apolitical Private Sphere
State Power and the Private Sphere
Privatization and Socialism
Private Selfhood and Ideology
Decency and Liberalism in Practice
Liberalism and Suffering
The Solemn Complement of Rorty's Ideals
Decency beyond Liberalism
Of Light Minds and Heavy Hands
A Circle without Circumference
Rorty's Incompatible Roles
Bibliography 203(8)
Index 211

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