Richard Rorty

Richard McKay Rorty (October 4, 1931 – June 8, 2007) was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His complex intellectual background gave him a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the analytic tradition in philosophy he would later famously reject. The philosophical program he developed included a rejection of a representationalist account of knowledge, a concept he referred to as a “mirror of nature” and which he saw as a holdover from Platonism. In response to this tradition, which he saw embodied by analytic philosophy, Rorty developed a novel form of pragmatism incorporating both contingency and naturalism. For Rorty, this brand of philosophy is always tied to the notion of “social hope,” that without the ideas of representation and other concepts standing in the way between the mind and the world, human society would be more free. His best known book is Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979).

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