Richard Rorty

Philosophy as Poetry

Notify me when the book’s added
To read this book, upload an EPUB or FB2 file to Bookmate. How do I upload a book?

Undeniably iconoclastic, and doggedly practical where others were
abstract, the late Richard Rorty was described by some as a philosopher with no philosophy.
Rorty was skeptical of systems claiming to have answers, seeing scientific and aesthetic schools
as vocabularies rather than as indispensable paths to truth. But his work displays a profound
awareness of philosophical tradition and an urgent concern for how we create a society. As Michael Bérubé writes in his introduction to this new volume, Rorty looked upon
philosophy as “a creative enterprise of dreaming up new and more humane ways to live.”
Drawn from Rorty’s acclaimed 2004 Page-Barbour lectures,
Philosophy as Poetry distills many of the central ideas in his work. Rorty
begins by addressing poetry and philosophy, which are often seen as contradictory pursuits. He offers a view of philosophy as a poem, beginning with the ancient Greeks and rewritten by  succeeding generations of philosophers seeking to improve it. He goes on to examine analytic
philosophy and the rejection by some philosophers, notably Wittgenstein, of the notion of philosophical problems that have solutions. The book concludes with an invigorating suspension
of intellectual borders as Rorty focuses on the romantic tradition and relates it to philosophic
This book makes an ideal starting place for anyone looking for an introduction to Rorty’s thought and his contribution to our sense of an American
pragmatism, as well as an understanding of his influence and the controversy that attended his work.

Page-Barbour Lectures

This book is currently unavailable
120 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
Have you already read it? How did you like it?


  • Dorthe Olsenhas quoted6 years ago
    James and Dewey asked us to give up the goal of achieving correspondence with the way things intrinsically are, and to settle for that of leading richer human lives.
  • Dorthe Olsenhas quoted6 years ago
    So in a post-Platonic culture, the love of wisdom would revert to its older sense of “intellectual culture.”
  • Dorthe Olsenhas quoted6 years ago
    Perhaps the best way to wrap up what I have been saying in these lectures is to turn to the question, What would intellectual life be like if the Platonic search for ahistorical criteria came to seem as quaint as the worship of the Olympian deities? If retail ideals were the only ones thought worthy of discussion? If human finitude, and the priority of the imagination to reason, were taken for granted? If romanticism and pragmatism had both come to seem simple common sense? If the jigsaw puzzle view of things had come to seem as implausible as the notion of divine providence?
    In the past I have sometimes described such a culture as one in which literature and the arts have replaced science and philosophy as sources of wisdom. But that description now seems to me misguided. I think it would be better to say that it would be a culture in which the meaning of the word “wisdom” had reverted to its pre-Platonic sense. Before the Greek word sophia acquired the special sense that Socrates and Plato gave it, it meant something like “skill,” something that could be gained only through the accumulation of experience. In that older sense, wisdom can be gained only by living a long time, seeing many men and cities, and keeping one’s eyes open. But after Socrates and Plato it was thought of differently; sophia came to mean getting in touch with something that was not the product of experience at all. The Greek word for “love of wisdom,” philosophia, which had once meant something like “intellectual culture,” came to denote the attempt to escape from finitude, to get in touch with the eternal, to achieve some sort of transcendence of the merely human.

On the bookshelves

Drag & drop your files (not more than 5 at once)