Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What is to Be Done?

The late Walter Kaufmann, a Nietzsche translator and philosopher, once wrote in a foreward to a volume of Nietzsche, that Nietzsche is the kind of writer who you can read all your life. You keep coming back to him at different phases of your life and he’s still relevant. There’s always more to get. It hasn’t turned out that way for me with Nietzsche, but just recently I picked up old essays by the philosopher Richard Rorty - someone I have gone back to and learned from over the last twenty years - and was still impressed. I learn new facets of a radically different perspective that I find attractive. I like his framing of the idea that our modern search for the Truth and the Good is really a replacement for the pre-modern search for God. That we yearn so strongly for a non-human something to be answerable to – reality, the Truth, the world as it is, the Absolute – that we concoct these God replacements because we don’t want to admit that it’s really just us. We’re answerable to human others and that’s it. So that’s why Rorty poses the question “Solidarity or Objectivity?” and opts for solidarity. We can’t know what the world is like beyond our particular human cognizing and experiencing, but we can try to come to some agreement with, and solve the problems of, us humans.

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