2005-2006 Symposium on Living Philosophers: Richard Rorty

 Richard Rorty

The Symposium is a yearlong seminar exploring the work of Richard Rorty, one of the most prominent contemporary philosophers. The Fall semester will concentrate on his critique of traditional epistemology and explore the neo-pragmatist alternative he develops. In the Spring we will focus on how Rorty’s anti-foundationalist and anti-essentialist positions shape his views on ethics and political philosophy. To unravel the different threads of his thought, we will discuss representative texts in Rorty’s corpus –ranging from his groundbreaking Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) to his more current writings. Throughout the year, we will reflect on Rorty’s challenge to philosophy’s traditional self-understanding as queen of the sciences and ultimate arbiter of truth. Our goal is to take this challenge seriously, explore what role it leaves for philosophy to play within our culture, consider its consequences for social and political thought, and evaluate the overall cogency and validity of Rorty’s view. Thus, we will not only learn about a set of “philosophical problems” and the attempts at solving or dissolving them, but also question the very purpose and function of philosophy.


Directors:                     Pablo Muchnik, Raymond Boisvert, Lauren Barthold

External Scholar:         David Hiley, University of New Hampshire

Invited Speakers:         Charles Guignon, University of South Florida

                                    Georgia Warnke, University of California – Riverside