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P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728
http://www.philosophypathways.com/newsletter/

Issue number 94
1st November, 2004

CONTENTS

I. 'On Jacques Derrida' by Judith Butler

II. 'The Architecture of Objects and the Human Designer' By Ovidiu Gherghe

III. 'Some Remarks on Richard Rorty's Pragmatism' by D.R. Khashaba

-=-

EDITOR'S NOTE

In this issue, we are lucky to have Judith Butler's superb article in memory of
Jacques Derrida, which appeared on the Philosop list on 13th October. The idea
of a short accurate summary of Derrida's thought seems somehow preposterous,
yet this essay comes close to accomplishing the impossible.

Ovidiu Gherghe has just completed his Pathways Moral Philosophy program under
the mentorship of Anthony Flood. His second article for Philosophy Pathways
raises tantalising questions concerning the mismatch between individual and
collective visions of the world of artefacts which we have created around us.

Egyptian philosopher D.R. Khashaba appears regularly in these pages. Here is
his latest contribution, probing at potential contradictions in Richard Rorty's
radical vision of pragmatism.

Geoffrey Klempner

-=-

I. 'ON JACQUES DERRIDA' BY JUDITH BUTLER

"How do you finally respond to your life and your name?" Derrida raised this
question in his final interview with Le Monde, published in August 18th of this
year. If he could apprehend his life, he remarks, he would also be obliged to
apprehend his death as singular and absolute, without resurrection and without
redemption. At this revealing moment, it is interesting that Derrida the
philosopher should find in Socrates his proper precursor, that he should turn
to Socrates to understand that, at the age of 74, he still did not quite know
how best to live. One cannot, he remarks, come to terms with one's life without
trying to apprehend one's death, asking, in effect, how a human lives and dies.

Much of Derrida's later work is dedicated to mourning, though he offers his
acts of public mourning as a posthumous gift, for instance, in The Work of
Mourning published in 2001. There he tries to come to terms with the death of
other writers and thinkers through reckoning his debt to their words, indeed,
their texts; his own writing constitutes an act of mourning, one that he is
perhaps, avant la lettre, recommending to us a way to begin to mourn this
thinker who not only taught us how to read, but gave the act of reading a new
significance and a new promise. In that book, he openly mourns Roland Barthes
who died in 1980, Paul de Man, who died in 1983, Michel Foucault, who died in
1984, and a host of others, including Edmund Jabes (1991), Louis Marin (1992),
Sarah Kofman (1994), Emmanuel Levinas (1995) and Jean-Francois Lyotard (1998).
The last of the essays, for Lyotard, included in this book is written six years
before Derrida's own death. It is not, however, Derrida's own death that
preoccupies him here, but rather his "debts." These are authors that he could
not do without, ones with whom and through whom he thinks. He writes only
because he reads, and he reads only because there are these authors to read
time and again. He "owes" them something or, perhaps, everything, if only
because he could not write without them; their writing exists as the
precondition of his own; their writing constitutes the means through which his
own writing voice is animated and secured, a voice that emerges, importantly,
as an address.

It strikes me as strange that in October of 1993 when I shared a stage with
Derrida at New York University, I had a brief, private conversation with him
that touched upon these issues. As we were seated at a table together with some
other speakers, I could see in Derrida a certain urgency to acknowledge those
many people who had translated him, those who had read him, those who had
defended him in public debate, and those who has made good use of his thinking
and his words. I leaned over after one of his several gestures of nearly
inhuman generosity and asked him whether he felt that he had many debts to pay.
I was hoping, vainly it seemed, to suggest to him that he need not feel so
indebted, thinking as I did in a perhaps naively Nietzschean way that the debt
was a form of enslavement, and that he did not see that what others offered
him, they offered freely. He seemed not to be able to hear me in English. And
so when I said "your debts," he said, "my death?" "No," I reiterated, "your
debts!" and he said, "my death!?"

At this point I could see that there was a nexus between the two, one that my
efforts at clear pronunciation could not quite pierce, but it was not until I
read his later work that I came to understand how important that nexus really
was. He writes, "There come moments when, as mourning demands (deuil oblige),
one feels obligated to declare one's debts. We feel it our duty to say what we
owe to the friend." He cautions against "saying" the debt and imagining that
one might then be done with the debt that way. He acknowledges instead the
"incalculable debt" that one that he does not want to pay: "I am conscious of
this and want it thus." He ends his essay on Lyotard with a direct address:
"there it is, Jean Francois, this is what, I tell myself, I today would have
wanted to try and tell you." There is in that attempt, that essai, a longing
that cannot reach the one to whom it is addressed, but does not for that reason
forfeit itself as longing. The act of mourning thus becomes a continued way of
"speaking to" the other who is gone, even though the other is gone, in spite of
the fact that the other is gone, precisely because that other is gone.

We now must say "Jacques" to name the one we have now lost, and in that sense
"Jacques Derrida" becomes the name of our loss. And yet we must continue to say
his name, not only to mark his passing, but precisely as the one whom we
continue to address, in what we write, because it is, for many of us,
impossible to write without relying on him, without thinking with and through
him. "Jacques Derrida," then, as the name for the future of what we write.

* * *

It is surely uncontroversial to say that Jacques Derrida was one of the
greatest philosophers of the 20th century, that his international reputation
far exceeds any French intellectual of his generation. More than that, his work
fundamentally changed the way in which we think about language, philosophy,
aesthetics, painting, literature, communication, ethics and politics. His early
work criticized the structuralist presumption that language could be described
as a static set of rules, and he showed how those rules admitted of contingency
and were dependent on a temporality that could undermine their efficacy. He
wrote against philosophical positions that uncritically subscribed to
"totality" or "systematicity" as values, without first considering the
alternatives that were ruled out by that preemptive valorization. He insisted
that the act of reading extends from literary texts to films, to works of art,
to popular culture, to political scenarios, and to philosophy itself. The
practice of "reading" insists that our ability to understand relies on our
capacity to interpret signs. It also presupposes that signs come to signify in
ways that no particular author or speaker can constrain in advance through
intention. This does not mean that our language always confounds our
intentions, but only that our intentions do not fully govern everything we end
up meaning by what we say and write (see Limited Inc., 1977).

Derrida's work moved from a criticism of philosophical presumptions in
groundbreaking books such as On Grammatology (1967), Writing and Difference
(1967), Dissemination (1972), The Post Card (1980), and Spurs (1978), to the
question of how to theorize the problem of "difference." This term he wrote as
"differance," not only to mark the way that signification works, with one term
referring to another, always relying on a deferral of meaning between signifier
and signified, but also to characterize an ethical relation, the relation of
sexual difference, and the relation to the Other. If some readers thought that
Derrida was a linguistic constructivist, they missed the fact that the name we
have for something, for ourselves, for an other, is precisely what fails to
capture the referent (as opposed to making or constructing that referent).

He clearly drew critically on the work of Emmanuel Levinas in order to insist
upon the "Other" as one to whom an incalculable responsibility is owed, one who
could never fully be "captured" through social categories or designative names,
one to whom a certain response is owed. This framework became the basis of his
strenuous critique of apartheid in South Africa, his vigilant opposition to
totalitarian regimes and forms of intellectual censorship, his theorization of
the nation-state beyond the hold of territoriality, his opposition to European
racism, and his critical relation to the discourse of "terror" as it worked to
fortify governmental powers that undermine basic human rights, in his defense
of animal rights, in his opposition to the death penalty, and even in his
queries about "being" Jewish and what it means to offer hospitality to those of
differing origins and language. One can see these various questions raised in
The Ear of the Other (1982), The Other Europe, Positions (1972), For Nelson
Mandela (1986), Given Time (1991) The Gift of Death (1992), The Other Heading:
Reflections on Today's Europe (1992), Spectres of Marx (1993), Politics of
Friendship (1994), The Monolingualism of the Other (1996), Philosophy in a Time
of Terror (with Jurgen Habermas) (2002), and his conversations with Helene
Cixous, Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint (2001).

Derrida made clear in his small book on Walter Benjamin, The Force of Law
(1994), that justice was a concept that was yet to come. This does not mean
that we cannot expect instances of justice in this life, and it does not mean
that justice will arrive for us only in another life. He was clear that there
was no other life. It means only that, as an ideal, it is that toward which we
strive, without end. Not to strive for justice because it cannot be fully
realized would be as mistaken as believing that one has already arrived at
justice and that the only task is to arm oneself adequately to fortify its
regime. The first is a form of nihilism (which he opposed) and the second is
dogmatism (which he opposed). Derrida kept us alive to the practice of
criticism, understanding that social and political transformation was an
incessant project, one that could not be relinquished, one that was coextensive
with the becoming of life itself, and with a reading of the rules through which
a polity constitutes itself through exclusion or effacement. How is justice
done? What justice do we owe others? And what does it mean to act in the name
of justice? These were questions that had to be asked regardless of the
consequences, and this meant that they were often questions asked when
established authorities wished that they were not.

If his critics worried that, with Derrida, there are no foundations upon which
one could rely, they doubtless were mistaken in that view. Derrida relies
perhaps most assiduously on Socrates, on a mode of philosophical inquiry that
took the question as the most honest and arduous form for thought. "How do you
finally respond to your life and to your name?" This question is posed by him
to himself, and yet he is, in this interview, a "tu" for himself, as if he is a
proximate friend, but not quite a "moi." He has taken himself as the other,
modeling a form of reflexivity, asking whether an account can be given of this
life, and of this death. Is there justice to be done to a life? That he asks
the question is exemplary, perhaps even foundational, since it keeps the final
meaning of that life and that name open. It prescribes a ceaseless task of
honoring what cannot be possessed through knowledge, that in a life that
exceeds our grasp.

Indeed, now that Derrida, the person, has died, his writing makes a demand upon
us, bequeathing his name to us who will continue to address him. We must address
him as he addressed himself, asking what it means to know and approach another,
to apprehend a life and a death, to give an account of its meaning, to
acknowledge its binding ties with others, and to do that justly. In this way,
Derrida has always been offering us a way to interrogate the very meaning of
our lives, singly and plurally, returning to the question as the beginning of
philosophy, but surely also, in his own way, and with several unpayable debts,
beginning philosophy anew.

(c) Judith Butler 2004

University of California, Berkeley

---

Judith Butler's essay was forwarded from the Society for Women in Philosophy
Information and Discussion List to the Philosop List on 13th October, with the
request from the original sender that it be widely distributed. The essay will
be appearing in the London Review of Books on 4th November 2004.

Judith Butler is Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the
University of California, Berkeley. Her books Precarious Life: Powers of
Mourning and Violence and Undoing Gender have both been published this year.

-=-

II. 'THE ARCHITECTURE OF OBJECTS AND THE HUMAN DESIGNER' BY OVIDIU GHERGHE

If you had gone to the store, purchased a vacuum cleaner only to arrive home
and realize it was actually designed to mow the lawn, you would probably go
back and ask to exchange it for something else that resembles a vacuum cleaner.
That would be the conventional thing to do, but let us take a very short journey
on a road less traveled. This is only a mental journey and as such it only
requires the willingness to open an internal window into an investigation that
might reveal something interesting, something that will make an impact in our
sense of wonder, and finally something that when it is all over it retains the
potential for inspiration. But this is not magic in the sense of some
supernatural power, it is rather a different sort of magic: one which looks
outwards and assembles inwards into a construction that satisfies both the
concept of the universal, and while extending into it one ends up grasping a
glimpse of its individuality.

If you were to simply follow the one conformist line of approach, chances are
that it will be rewarding in as much the benefit - mainly conventional wisdom -
engulfs us in a protective foam of assurance that our decision must be the right
one. Surely the ratio of those agreeing with such decision outnumber the ones
who offer a different advance. But in these matters the issue cannot be
strictly mathematical. My own 'flavor' to this particular search is only
philosophical. The dilemma becomes more apparent when displayed in terms of the
general consensus, as opposed to the individuality of choices. By approving the
general interpretation it simply means respecting the order of things as viewed
from a standard operational approach. The dissident (one who may question
inaccuracies) is viewed by the general mind as a rebel, and in most cases it is
the automatic glitch of the internal evaluation. This only leads to a
reductionism whose tendency towards an absolute logical approach does not
appear to calculate very well when it comes to the possibility of choices. It
is through these arches that one may lead towards an understanding of the
individual's right to its underlying uniqueness. Self-deception is an
evolutionary advantage. The mistake occurs when one thinks that they are immune
to it.

Since you needed a lawn mower anyways, you decide to go the store and instead
of returning it, you ask them to see what they have in stock that will function
as a vacuum cleaner. Further suppose that the salesman convinces you that what
you might want is a golf cart that also serves as a lawn mower. An entrepreneur
may have had the inspiration and seized at the opportunity for mass producing
these, thereby greatly reducing the costs of ownership. In this aspect, the
idea makes economic sense for the mass consumer. The nonconformist approach
already shows the advantages of combining imagination with creativity. This
sort of description and particular explication runs away from the inflexibility
of rigid programming, a sort of mental commotion that is responsible for much
transmissible inspirational musing.

When applied to material objects such as vacuum cleaners, golf carts, or
houses, the evaluation retains its practical functionality. The idea of
individuality, on the other hand, is most apparent in the way we see
residences. A home, viewed from the outside may appear similar to other homes
or it may not, but enter any, and chances are that you will immediately observe
intricate patterns of both similarities and dissimilarities. Out of these, it is
the dissimilarities that strike us as the unique factor. The way we investigate
the patterns may reveal different type of clues. The point is that an Object
and a Person are different sort of constructions. Once the human element is
considered from a wider range of choices, the world of objects will still
attract our blindness into deceiving us that it can be escaped. The way to
escape it is through self-deception. The inward explorer must bring the one
aspect of the truth to the surface that matters most to him, but that in itself
may sometimes make for a possible target from the attack of the common
standardized opinion. The individuality of objects on the other hand lacks
something that is only accomplished and gained when extended to the overall
human element. In other words, the Object would not matter without the Person
who experiences it. The individuality of the vacuum cleaner that functioned as
lawn mower is the intermediate between the human element which created the
object and the one who decides to use it.

In the 1940s a man named William Levitt took the idea of mass-production and
applied it to housing. Up until that time "the mass production of housing had
been limited to the military, where rows upon rows of barracks were lined up in
regiments, identically and instrumentally ordered." [1] Levitt was inspired to
apply this format to the housing industry after he was contracted to produce
military housing during the Second World War. The fact that other than the
military usage of these type of constructions "had also been used on
high-yield, experimental chicken farms" should not detract from the economical
issue in that Levitt was able to build and provide cheaper housing for the
masses. However, adding the human element reveals another interesting
connection. Stuart Ewen traces the method of construction that was "organized
according to processes innovated by Henry Ford on the automotive assembly line,
and the promotion of Levittown followed trails blazed by advertising and
consumer engineering." [2] What it is important to observe at this point is
that moving from the method of production which was standardized into
step-by-step processes into the method of advertising to the people, Levitt
found it adequate to deceive the potential buyer. It could be argued that since
self-deception is a predominant element in our interpretation (as we
established), then Levitt only seems to be playing into that characteristic.
His sales advertisements did not match the final reality of the Object.
"Explaining the patent imagistic deception of his promotional materials, Levitt
opined that 'the masses are asses.'" [3]

The next major thing in our interpretation is the points of departure from our
outlook. The first will highlight the objective and exact measurable aspect.
This is an outward-looking position. Ewen says "one could observe that the
homes themselves were laid out in a monotonous grid work, a panoptic
organization of horizontal space whose prior application had included penal
institutions, military barracks, and chicken coops." [4] The aspect of exact
partitioning is where the rational operates within geometrical boundaries. And
immediately follows the focus to the other possible point of observation, and
signaling a potential turnaround of interpretation. The shift occurs when the
unilateral enforcement produces a disproportional effect, but our objective is
not to eliminate one point-of-view from the other, but to make sense when
viewed as both being necessary extension of one another. To spotlight this
decoupling while maintaining its relationship is vital in understanding our
original dilemma. Ewen goes on:

     "Yet within the grid, there was a game of appearance which,
     in ensemble, suggested another, less methodical way of life.
     As a mass-production designer, the architect also had the
     job of offering a kind of individuality that seemed at odds
     with the industrial routines of panopticism and
     standardization. [Industrial designer] Walter Teague...
     added that 'a romantic attitude toward the domestic machine
     is understandable and defensible.' In this regard, Teague
     suggested... 'some means of satisfying the buyer's
     romantic as well as practical needs.'" [5]
     
The amalgamation of two points of view may be easiest resolved in the world of
Objects when one completely cancels the other out. That, of course, is not a
solution to our dilemma. That separation is a mental magic illusion; also a
version of self-deception in its own house. The problem becomes apparent when
imbalance shifts too much in either direction between the two easiest ways of
organizing information. We observed the tussle between the Object and the
Person but we were not able to explain what is the exact solution to it. And
that is because it cannot be measured in precise exactness. Now imagine that
you were building something that cannot be exactly measured, that is more
complex than an Object, and that is constantly self-deceiving itself as to
satisfy the intricate balance between our individuality and our place in the
societal network. Add the fact of possible self-reliance with a certain
flexibility of operation, and try to make it a little enjoyable; you live
there. But at the same time, it is worth concluding that somebody else's house
"retains an architectural 'flavor' in its design." [6] The only thing left
undone is to figure out the difference between the Object and the Person. 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Stuart Ewen, All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary
Culture (Basic Books, 1998) p. 226
[2] Ibid., p. 227
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid. p. 229
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid., Ewen is quoting architect Arthur T. North's "Houses Cannot Be Built
Like Automobiles,"  American Architect 142 (December 1932) p. 20.

(c) Ovidiu Gherghe 2004

E-mail: ovi1@bigfoot.com

-=-

III. 'SOME REMARKS ON RICHARD RORTY'S PRAGMATISM' BY D.R. KHASHABA

Issue 8 of Think, (Autumn 2004), included an edited transcript of a valuable
discussion on Pragmatism between Professors Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, and
James Conant. The discussion was originally broadcast on Chicago Public Radio,
anchored by Gretchen Helfrich. In what follows I offer a few remarks inspired
by the discussion, focusing on Professor Richard Rorty's contribution. I have
not commented on the valuable contributions of Professors Putnam and Conant,
with whose views I found myself largely in agreement.

The great founders of Pragmatism, Peirce, James, Dewey, have all made important
contributions to philosophical and human understanding. But in representing
their philosophical outlook as a 'theory of truth', they, especially William
James, were not serving their own cause. I remember in my teens reading William
James's Pragmatism. I was shocked; I filled all the wide margins and all the
space between the generously spaced lines with angry comments. The whole
argument of the book was beside the point.[1] 

To my mind, what gives occasion and excuse to the contention of Pragmatists
(other than Rorty) that they are dealing with 'truth' is the inveterate
illusion of philosophers that they are concerned with truth in the same sense
as the natural scientists. This is an illusion that no thinker should have ever
entertained after it had been dispelled by Socrates when he renounced all
inquiry into natural causes and all examination of pragmata (things, facts) and
declared that he was only concerned with logoi (ideas and meanings). Kant found
it necessary to reiterate the Socratic lesson and clearly assigned empiricism
and rationalism their proper places which they should not outstep; and yet the
illusion persists. Pragmatism, in so far as it addresses this illusion, serves
a true need, and is pragmatically justified. But Pragmatists overplay their
hand; they want to produce a theory of inquiry that is equally good in the
spheres of morals, politics, and physics. This is to eat your cake and have it,
a luxury not permitted by the gods. Perhaps the least culpable in this respect
was the great John Dewey, with his preoccupation with education. He rightly
insisted that the business of philosophy was with values and the clarification
of ideas. 

Professor Richard Rorty, the most eminent contemporary advocate of Pragmatism,
may also be free of blame on this count: he denies that he is concerned with
'truth'. But he goes to extremes: he believes that his approach (with its
complete banishment of the notion of truth) is good for all areas of inquiry.
Moreover, along with the notion of truth, he wants us to throw overboard much
without which human life would be, to say the least, intolerable. 

The common acceptation of the term 'truth' involves somehow conformity with a
given state of affairs. No doubt this conception of 'truth' is riddled with
logical and metaphysical difficulties. Plato's Theaetetus long ago showed that.
But the juror pondering whether to give a guilty or a not-guilty vote, the
historian weighing the veracity of a report, the physicist, the astrophysicist,
the microbiologist, all need and make use of the notion, though in each of these
areas the notion has a specific character and uses particular criteria relevant
to that area. These are different kinds of truth (the fault of most 'theories
of truth' is that they assume there is one kind of truth) but they all share
the characteristic of agreeing with something objective. The notion of truth as
conformity to fact is thus pragmatically vindicated.

While asserting that 'you don't have to worry about whether your belief
corresponds to reality', Rorty still emphasizes the idea of 'availability of
evidence'. I think the idea of 'evidence' sits very ill in the Pragmatic
complex. If you have to respect evidence, to attach weight to evidence, how
does that differ from having to comply with objective fact? In philosophy
proper we are not, any more than in poetry, concerned with fact. (This is a
view I have been urging in all my writings but cannot expand on here.) Of
course a philosopher, considering a political or social problem, has to take
account of the facts on the ground, but in considering the principles s/he has
to uphold, no facts are involved. That it is not always easy to draw a fine
line between principles and practical applications is a different matter that
should not be allowed to confuse the philosophical issues. Yet, on the other
hand, because Professor Rorty is only interested in the human scene, he seems
to propose abolishing empirical science. He says, 'I think inquiry is a matter
of reweaving a network of beliefs and desires.' I would wholeheartedly endorse
that if the word 'inquiry' were qualified with the word 'philosophical' or if
it had been replaced by the word 'culture'. But I have to confess I don't
understand how that relates to his rejection of empiricism and the notion of
experience. I can only think that he is confusing issues.

If Pragmatism was a reaction against scientism, then it has over-reacted.
Instead of prescribing to science its proper jurisdiction as confined to giving
an account of things as they are, it has sought to replace science with an
approach that cannot do the work of science. While W.V.O. Quine had maintained
that what science tells us about 'what there is' is all we can know and all we
need to know, Richard Rorty tells us we should forget about what science tells
us about 'what there is'. Neither position is satisfactory. Quine's position
might have been good in a world peopled with robots. Rorty's position might not
work even in a world peopled with gods.

Rorty says that 'the word "true" is indefinable'. That's very true. Socrates
long ago showed that no word is, strictly speaking, definable. Every word is
discovered to be implicated in an endless web of relatednesses and connections.
That is why all his elenctic discourses ended without a definite outcome. But
the result was not negative. The search for the meaning of a term unravelled
complexities, shed light on obscurities, removed misconceptions and prejudices.
That there can be no definitive definition of truth (and the common error of all
'theories of truth' is just that they think there can be) does not mean that we
should abandon the notion, but that we should clarify it. And if we find that
there is a certain area where the notion is strictly irrelevant, we should
specify that area, not interdict the use of the term where it is relevant.

To illustrate and to remove a possible misunderstanding: when I said that the
result of the Socratic elenctic was not negative I was not suggesting that it
arrived at or led to truth: for precisely the Socratic search for meaning is an
area to which the idea of truth is not relevant. Even the search for the meaning
of 'truth' does not give us truth but clarity. (This is a point where I stand in
opposition to the 'accepted wisdom' about Socrates' search for 'definitions'.
So, with all due respect, I would say that Rorty's reference to 'the Platonic
attempt to say "Hey, we got to have definitions of these terms",' is rooted in
a widespread misunderstanding.)

One might sympathize with Rorty's suspicion of high-sounding abstractions. But
when he says that in place of an appeal to righteousness, 'it would be better
to appeal to a better future', I must say that an appeal to 'a better future'
would be morally wrong if it did not incorporate the ideal of Justice with a
capital J. President Bush justifies the war on Iraq with the claim that it will
lead to and was necessary for 'a better future' for American citizens (though
not for the Iraqi children and other civilians who were and continue to be
killed or maimed in the process). Granting that the President's claim was
'justified' (to lessen the ambiguity of the word, are we permitted to say
'verified'?), would that make his action just? Would a materially 'better
future' not only for Americans but even for the whole of humankind, be in
itself just cause for any action? And if we want to remove that mischievous
adverb 'materially', how can we do it without invoking such notions as Justice,
Integrity, Tolerance, and the like? A 'better future' remains a meaningless
blank until it is provided with criteria, and with criteria we are back to our
poor, old-fashioned, reviled Platonic Forms. Without norms a 'better future'
may be better for pigs but not for humans. I am not suggesting that Rorty
envisions a world without values, but I say that his philosophical position
deprives us of the language (and behind the language the ideas) necessary for
stipulating the conditions that would make the world we dream of fit for humans.

Again, Rorty wants to do away with the need for one 'becoming clear about what
one really means by one's concept'. He supports this by saying, 'One's use of a
word changes all the time under various rhetorical... pressures'. So once more
he produces a correct (how does this differ from 'true') observation (how does
this differ from 'factual account'?) to justify a claim that extends far beyond
the reach of the pretext offered. Of course one's use of a word changes all the
time and has to change with the change of context, but unless one is clear in
one's mind on each occasion what one means by the word at the particular time
and in the particular context, one gets nowhere. So here again I am using a
pragmatic argument which should mean something to a Pragmatist.

Footnote

[1] No less a thinker than George Santayana, who was a student and admirer of
William James, has said the same thing. In "A Brief History of my Opinions"
(The Philosophy of Santayana, ed. by Irwin Edman, The Modern Library) he says
that "when his book on Pragmatism appeared... it gave me a rude shock. I could
not stomach that way of speaking about truth." 

(c) D.R. Khashaba 2004

E-mail: dkhashaba@hotmail.com

Website: http://www.Back-to-Socrates.com

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