Rorty, Richard

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Richard McKay Rorty (1931-2007) is commonly described as one of the most influential thinkers of his era. A philosopher with a remarkably broad intellectual range, his work included the development of a distinctive brand of pragmatism as well as significant contributions to literary criticism, political theory, and other scholarly fields. He was also a public intellectual, writing for such publications as The Nation and The Atlantic. Rorty was born on October 4, 1931, in New York City. The son of writers and activists James Rorty and Winifred Raushenbush Rorty (and the grandson of prominent Social Gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch), he later wrote in an autobiographical sketch, "At 12, I knew that the point of being human was to spend one's life fighting social injustice." His family moved to Flatbrookville, New Jersey, when he was a child. Rorty enrolled in the University of Chicago at age 15, eventually earning his B.A. (1949) and M.A. (1952) in philosophy, studying under Rudolf Carnap, Charles Hartshorne, and Richard McKeon. After completing his Ph.D. (1956) at Yale University with the dissertation, "The Concept of Potentiality," supervised by Paul Weiss, Rorty served two years in the army before receiving his first academic appointment at Wellesley College. From 1961 to 1982 Rorty taught in the philosophy department at Princeton University before moving to the University of Virginia as Kenan Professor of the Humanities. In 1998, Rorty accepted his final academic position at Stanford University in the Department of Comparative Literature. While Rorty gained scholarly attention with his article, "Mind-Body Identity, Privacy and Categories," (1965) and his edited anthology The Linguistic Turn (1967), his most provocative work was yet to come. By combining what he learned from analytic, continental, and pragmatist philosophers, Rorty developed an "anti-Philosophy" that emphasized the historical contingency of philosophy as one literary genre beside the sciences and arts. His version of anti-essentialism and anti-foundationalism was developed in such important works as Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979); Consequences of Pragmatism (1982); Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989); Achieving Our Country (1998); Philosophy and Social Hope (2000); and four volumes of his philosophical papers: Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991), Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991), Truth and Progress (1998) and Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007). The social and political consequences that emerge from this version of neopragmatism, Rorty contended, are those of a romantic liberalism that promotes justice and democracy by reducing cruelty and increasing solidarity through the redescription of our contingent vocabularies. Richard Rorty died of pancreatic cancer June 8, 2007, in Palo Alto, California.

From the description of Richard Rorty papers, 1863-2003, bulk 1960-2000. (University of California, Irvine). WorldCat record id: 527796685

Historical Background

Richard McKay Rorty (1931-2007) is commonly described as one of the most influential thinkers of his era. A philosopher with a remarkably broad intellectual range, his work included the development of a distinctive brand of pragmatism as well as significant contributions to literary criticism, political theory, and other scholarly fields. He was also a public intellectual, writing for such publications as The Nation and The Atlantic .

Rorty was born on October 4, 1931, in New York City. The son of writers and activists James Rorty and Winifred Raushenbush Rorty (and the grandson of prominent Social Gospel theologian Walter Rauschenbusch), he later wrote in an autobiographical sketch, "At 12, I knew that the point of being human was to spend one's life fighting social injustice." His family moved to Flatbrookville, New Jersey, when he was a child.

Rorty enrolled in the University of Chicago at age 15, eventually earning his B.A. (1949) and M.A. (1952) in philosophy, studying under Rudolf Carnap, Charles Hartshorne, and Richard McKeon. After completing his Ph.D. (1956) at Yale University with the dissertation, "The Concept of Potentiality," supervised by Paul Weiss, Rorty served two years in the army before receiving his first academic appointment at Wellesley College. From 1961 to 1982 Rorty taught in the philosophy department at Princeton University before moving to the University of Virginia as Kenan Professor of the Humanities. In 1998, Rorty accepted his final academic position at Stanford University in the Department of Comparative Literature.

While Rorty gained scholarly attention with his article, "Mind-Body Identity, Privacy and Categories," (1965) and his edited anthology The Linguistic Turn (1967), his most provocative work was yet to come. By combining what he learned from analytic, continental, and pragmatist philosophers, Rorty developed an "anti-Philosophy" that emphasized the historical contingency of philosophy as one literary genre beside the sciences and arts. His version of anti-essentialism and anti-foundationalism was developed in such important works as Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979); Consequences of Pragmatism (1982); Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989); Achieving Our Country (1998); Philosophy and Social Hope (2000); and four volumes of his philosophical papers: Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991), Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991), Truth and Progress (1998) and Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007). The social and political consequences that emerge from this version of neopragmatism, Rorty contended, are those of a romantic liberalism that promotes justice and democracy by reducing cruelty and increasing solidarity through the redescription of our contingent vocabularies.

Richard Rorty died of pancreatic cancer June 8, 2007, in Palo Alto, California.

Historical Background

  • 1931: Born on October 4th, in New York City
  • 1946: Enrolls in University of Chicago just before his fifteenth birthday
  • 1949: B.A., University of Chicago
  • 1952: M.A., University of Chicago
  • 1956: Ph.D., Yale University (dissertation: "The Concept of Potentiality")
  • 1957 - 1958 : Army of the United States
  • 1958 - 1961 : Instructor and Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
  • 1961 - 1982 : Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
  • 1967: The Linguistic Turn (ed.) published by the University of Chicago Press
  • 1968 - 1969 : American Council of Learned Societies fellowship
  • 1973: Exegesis and Argument: Studies in Greek Philosophy Presented to Gregory Vlastos (edited with Edward Lee and Alexander Mourelatos) published by VanGorcum
  • 1973 - 1974 : Guggenheim Fellowship
  • 1979: Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature published by Princeton University Press
  • 1979: President, American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division
  • 1981 - 1986 : MacArthur Fellowship
  • 1982: Consequences of Pragmatism published by the University of Minnesota Press
  • 1982 - 1998 : University Professor of the Humanities, University of Virginia (named Professor Emeritus, 1998)
  • 1985: Philosophy in History (edited with J.B. Schneewind and Quentin Skinner) published by Cambridge University Press
  • 1986: Northcliffe Lectures, University College, London
  • 1987: Clark Lectures, Trinity College, Cambridge
  • 1989: Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity published by Cambridge University Press
  • 1990 - 1991 : National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship
  • 1991: Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers I published by Cambridge University Press
  • 1991: Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers II published by Cambridge University Press
  • 1992: The Linguistic Turn published in second, enlarged edition by the University of Chicago Press
  • 1994: Hoffnung statt Erkenntnis: Einleitung in die pragmatische Philosophie (three lectures delivered in Vienna and Paris in 1993) published by Passagen Verlag
  • 1997: Truth, Politics and 'Post-Modernism' (Spinoza lectures, University of Amsterdam) published by Van Gorcum
  • 1997: Massey Lectures, Harvard University
  • 1998 - 2007 : Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University (named Professor Emeritus, 2005)
  • 1998: Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America published by Harvard University Press
  • 1998: Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers III published by Cambridge University Press
  • 2000: Philosophy and Social Hope published by Penguin
  • 2005: The Future of Religion (edited with Gianni Vattimo) published by Columbia University Press
  • 2006: Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself, Interviews with Richard Rorty (edited and with an introduction by Eduardo Mendieta) published by Stanford University Press
  • 2007: Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers IV published by Cambridge University Press
  • 2007: Awarded the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences by the American Philosophical Society
  • 2007: Dies on June 8 in Palo Alto, California, at age 75
  • 2010: The Philosophy of Richard Rorty (edited by Randall E. Auxier and Lewis Edwin Hahn) published by Open Court

From the guide to the Richard Rorty papers, Bulk, 1960-2000, 1863-2003, (University of California, Irvine. Libraries. Special Collections and Archives. >)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Entitled opinions (about life and literature), 2005 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Quine, W. V. (Willard Van Orman). W. V. Quine papers, ca. 1908-2000. Houghton Library
referencedIn Harrison, Robert Pogue. Entitled opinions (about life and literature) : audio recordings, 2005-2011 (inclusive). Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Richard Rorty papers, Bulk, 1960-2000, 1863-2003 University of California, Irvine. Library. Department of Special Collections
creatorOf Rorty, Richard. Richard Rorty papers, 1863-2003, bulk 1960-2000. University of California, Irvine. Library. Department of Special Collections
referencedIn Rada, Jeff R. Science under the postmodern knife / by Jeff R. Rada. Lincoln Christian University, Jessie C. Eury Library
referencedIn Davidson, Donald, 1917-2003. Donald Davidson papers, 1935-2003. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Records of the New York Institute for the Humanities, Bulk, 1980-1984, 1971-2004 New York University. Archives
referencedIn Stanford Humanities Center audio-visual materials, 1989-2006 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Stanford University Press archival book copies, 1900-2012 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Abraham, Henry Julian, 1921-. Fall convocation addresses at the University of Virginia [manuscript], 1983-1998. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Casteen, John Thomas. Recordings of speeches given at the University of Virginia, 1991 and 1994. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Donald Davidson papers, 1935-2003, bulk 1955-2003 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Stanford Humanities Center. Stanford Humanities Center audio-visual materials, 1989-2006. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Davidson, Donald, 1917-2003. person
associatedWith Donald Davidson, 1917-2003 corporateBody
associatedWith Harrison, Robert Pogue. person
associatedWith Harrison, Robert Pogue. person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Quine, W. V. (Willard Van Orman) person
associatedWith Rada, Jeff R. person
associatedWith Stanford Humanities Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Stanford University. Press. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Critical theory--Archives
Philosophy, American--20th century--Archives
Occupation
Theorists
Philosophers
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Active 1983

Active 1998

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