Monday, July 18, 2011

The Richard Rorty Exchange Part VIII

The Philosopher was wondering:

I've been thinking about this question regarding Rorty: Is there
anything natural in Rorty's philosophy, anything, as he would put it, "found"? Or, is everything, "made?"

I thought:

Rorty's a big champion of the natural sciences and we certainly use the designation "natural" usefully. Humans are understood to be natural beings causally tied up in the whole causal unfolding of the physical world. And of course there are our everyday uses of "found" and "made".

But if you or someone else wants the distinction between "found" and "made" to do some epistemological work, like be a reliable distinction between ontologically distinct things one of which - the found - is simply there in the same way for all of us and so serves as a universal touchstone or referrent for reality and so creates an epistemological task of how we know when and who has the perspicuous representing of it beyond all "made" or human-createdness, then they will be disappointed as we see by a review of the history of philosophical attempts to find such a referrent and they should really talk about other, more useful, topics.

By telling a particular story of the history of philosophy Rorty wants to convince people that a distinction - the eternal and the contingent, the phenomena and the noumena, how things are in and of themselves and how they are because we see them that way - has led us astray and been ultimately unproductive, and so other topics are better to be discussed.

But maybe I'm not understanding your question. I assumed that you were saying that natural was connected to found as artificial or artificed would be connected to made.

This is one of the main themes of "Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature." I'm reading it again twenty years later and poring over it like its a sacred text. I want to be converted and inducted into the cult! Yet aren't I already a true believer? It seems some small part won't let go. Maybe that's the attachment to the absolute, the transcendent, the Truth. And is that a sane connection to what's real or is it the last vestige of the illusion?

Ah philosophy!


impersonal research assistant said...

You might be interested in pursuing these fundamental epistemological problems further by taking a look at Ben-Aharon's extremely original new book "the Event in Science, History, Philosophy and Art." He presents a really subtle notion of a barely conscious cognitive reversal which takes place as the human interacts with the world.

Jeff Meyerhoff said...

I was a big fan of those French thinkers Ben-Aharon uses in the book you mention. I'll take another look.