A Pragmatist's Progress?: Richard Rorty and American Intellectual History

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Overview

In this volume, a host of distinguished scholars examine Richard Rorty's influence on twentieth-century American pragmatism and its commitment to achieving social democracy. Rorty's reclaiming of the pragmatist tradition and his contribution to the discipline of intellectual history are highlighted; at the same time, each essay finds Rorty's pragmatism (most fully enunciated in "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity") lacking in its privatist vision of the good life. This criticism is drawn out through explicit comparisons between Rorty and his grandfather Walter Rauschenbusch, William James, John Dewey, Randolph Bourne, Richard J. Bernstein, and other twentieth century pragmatist thinkers. This volume offers the most complete historical treatment of this controversial intellectual to date.

Author Biography: John Pettegrew is assistant professor of history at Lehigh University. He is currently completing a book entitled "Brutes in Suits: The Pathological Origins of American Masculinity, 1890-1920."

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Editorial Reviews

Political Studies
These essays succeed in illustrating the analytic fertility of intellectual history in relation to this influential and controversial thinker whose significance is hard to capture either through philosophical or political analysis alone.
Journal of American History
The excellent essays in this volume, some previously published, engage with Rorty but invariably find him lacking.
Journal Of American History
The excellent essays in this volume, some previously published, engage with Rorty but invariably find him lacking.
Choice
Insightfully introduced and contexualized by editor John Pettegrew, these well-written and probing pieces map the trajectory of Rorty's philosophical odyssey against the backdrop of America's and pragmatism's historical development.
Political Studies Review
These essays succeed in illustrating the analytic fertility of intellectual history in relation to this influential and controversial thinker whose significance is hard to capture either through philosophical or political analysis alone.
Paul Boyer
This superb collection of critical essays illuminates the intellectual journey of Richard Rorty, one of the most interesting, elusive, and unpredictable philosophers of the late twentieth century. From antifoundationalist neopragmatist to socially engaged public intellectual, Rorty has challenged and sometimes baffled his admirers and detractors alike. These essays, nicely introduced and contextualized by editor John Pettegrew, offer invaluable insights to all those interested in Rorty's evolution, the history of pragmatism, the larger contours of twentieth-century intellectual history, and the public discourse of our day.
David A. Hollinger
Discerning essays that clarify Rorty's place in American intellectual history and explain Rorty's special appeal to theoretically-engaged historians.
Robert Westbrook
The essays in this volume make it all the more apparent why Richard Rorty has become a lightening rod in contemporary American culture, and why intellectual historians have been among his sternest critics. Rorty's bracing response to them is also further evidence that he can stand out in a storm.
CHOICE
Insightfully introduced and contexualized by editor John Pettegrew, these well-written and probing pieces map the trajectory of Rorty's philosophical odyssey against the backdrop of America's and pragmatism's historical development.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847690619
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Series: American Intellectual Culture Series
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John Pettegrew is assistant professor of history at Lehigh University. He is currently completing a book entitled Brutes in Suits: The Pathological Origins of American Masculinity, 1890-1920.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Pragmatism: An Old Name for Some New Ways of Thinking? 19
2 Rorty, Radicalism, Romanticism: The Politics of The Gaze 61
3 Private Life and Public Commitment: From Walter Rauschenbusch to Richard Rorty 85
4 Lives of Irony: Randolph Bourne, Richard Rorty, & a New Genealogy of Critical Pragmatism 103
5 Is It Pragmatism? Rorty and the American Tradition 135
6 Is the Revival of Pragmatism Practical, or What Are the Consequences of Pragmatism? 151
7 Narrative Politics: Richard Rorty at the "End of Reform" 181
Afterword: Intellectual Historians and Pragmatist Philosophy 207
Index 213
About the Contributors 221
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