Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
In this 1989 book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual freedom of the ironic, philosophical perspective with the public project of human solidarity as it is engendered through the insights and sensibilities of great writers. The book has a characteristically wide range of reference from philosophy through social theory to literary criticism. It confirms Rorty's status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike.
- Paperback | 220 pages
- 150 x 229 x 18mm | 340g
- 24 Feb 1989
- Cambridge University Press
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Worked examples or Exercises
Table of contents
Preface; Introduction; Part I. Contingency: 1. The contingency of language; 2. The contingency of selfhood; 3. The contingency of a liberal community; Part II. Ironism and Theory: 4. Private irony and liberal hope; 5. Self-creation and affiliation: Proust, Nietzsche, and Heidegger; 6. From ironist theory to private allusions: Derrida; Part III. Cruelty and Solidarity: 7. The barber of Kasbeam: Nabokov on cruelty; 8. The last intellectual in Europe: Orwell on cruelty; 9. Solidarity; Index of names.
"...bristles with big and unsettling ideas...No brief summary of this book can begin to convey its freshness, scope, and immense erudition...Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity will induce intellectual tingles in the philosopher and layman alike. It is going to be read for a long time." The Philadelphia Inquirer "This is Rorty at his most stimulating, and he emerges as a major political theorist." Library Journal "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is not only readable, informative and ceaselessly interesting; it is a bold and topical manifest about the entire philosophical and political prospect of our 'post-modern' times. Jonathan Re'e Radical Philosophy "...consistently provocative, and every page excites philosophic thought." Philosophy and Literature "An exciting book. For millennia philosophers have been debating whether the universe is out there to be discovered or is rather in effect invented by thinkers who can never get beyond their own categories. Rorty is our most prominent perspectivist today....Rorty writes with erudition and style. His views are always stimulating, though they will inevitably tend to infuriate readers who are not ready for a 'postmetaphysical' world." H. L. Shapiro, Choice