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

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9781573927253: Richard Rorty's Politics: Liberalism at the End of the American Century
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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 Enlighenment rationales.

Melkonian initially compares Rorty's social and political views with his alleged progenitor, John Dewey, showing that 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's private role as ironist and his public role as apologist for existing liberal democracies are not so much incommensurable in principle as they are incompatible in fact.

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About the Author:

Markar Melkonian, Ph.D., is a writer, teacher, veteran solidarity worker, and the author of Marxism: A Post-Cold War Primer.

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