An Ethics for Today: Finding Common Ground Between Philosophy and Religion

Overview

Richard Rorty is famous, maybe even infamous, for his philosophical nonchalance. His groundbreaking work not only rejects all theories of truth but also dismisses modern epistemology and its preoccupation with knowledge and representation. At the same time, the celebrated pragmatist believed there could be no universally valid answers to moral questions, which led him to a complex view of religion rarely expressed in his writings.

In this posthumous publication, Rorty, a strict ...

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An Ethics for Today: Finding Common Ground Between Philosophy and Religion

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Overview

Richard Rorty is famous, maybe even infamous, for his philosophical nonchalance. His groundbreaking work not only rejects all theories of truth but also dismisses modern epistemology and its preoccupation with knowledge and representation. At the same time, the celebrated pragmatist believed there could be no universally valid answers to moral questions, which led him to a complex view of religion rarely expressed in his writings.

In this posthumous publication, Rorty, a strict secularist, finds in the pragmatic thought of John Dewey, John Stuart Mill, William James, and George Santayana, among others, a political imagination shared by religious traditions. His intent is not to promote belief over nonbelief or to blur the distinction between religious and public domains. Rorty seeks only to locate patterns of similarity and difference so an ethics of decency and a politics of solidarity can rise. He particularly responds to Pope Benedict XVI and his campaign against the relativist vision. Whether holding theologians, metaphysicians, or political ideologues to account, Rorty remains steadfast in his opposition to absolute uniformity and its exploitation of political strength.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Pragmatism Today - Roman Madzia

...concise but none the less immensely thoughtful...

Sophia - Daniel Dombrowski

This book makes for fascinating reading. It is a rare philosophy book that is a page-turner that can be read in one or two sittings.

Library Journal
Rorty, who died in 2007, delivered this piece as a lecture at the University of Turin in September 2005, confronting the view of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, that a dictatorship of relativism threatens civilization. To the contrary, Rorty claims, those who agree with Ratzinger wrongly seek to anchor their ethical ideals in a supposed world that exists beyond our ordinary human world, thus carrying forth a program that has beguiled philosophers since Plato. Instead, says Rorty, we should view our ideals as aspirations rather than vainly seek a guarantee for them in an underlying structure of the world. Likewise in error is the quest for secure foundations for knowledge. Instead, following William James and John Dewey, we should be guided by what works in practice. Religion can be pursued as a private vision or practice, but to inject it into the public sphere is dangerous. The book includes an introduction by Gianni Vattimo (philosophy, Univ. of Turin), a foreword by Jeffrey Robbins (religion & philosophy, Lebanon Valley Coll.), and a conclusion by G. Elijah Dann (formerly, philosophy, Univ. of Toronto, Mississauga) sympathetically discussing Rorty's views on religion. VERDICT This striking presentation of Rorty's influential thoughts will be of value to those grounded in the study of philosophy, religion, and their interaction.—David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231150569
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2010
  • Pages: 104
  • Sales rank: 1,228,321
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Rorty (1931-2007) was professor of comparative literature and philosophy at Stanford University. His Columbia University Press books are The Future of Religion (with Gianni Vattimo) and What's the Use of Truth?Gianni Vattimo is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Turin and a member of the European Parliament. His books include The Responsibility of the Philosopher; Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue (with René Girard); Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law; and After Christianity.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Richard Rorty: A Philosophical Guide to Talking About Religion, by Jeffrey W. RobbinsIntroduction, by Gianni VattimoAn Ethics for Today, by Richard RortyConclusion: Philosophy, Religion, and Religious Belief After Rorty, by G. Elijah Dann

Columbia University Press

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