Geras and Postmodernism 2: Richard Rorty
This chapter generally commends Geras’s critique of Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. He concurs with Geras’s claim against Rorty that there is such a thing as human nature, and that Rorty implicitly uses assumptions about human nature in various ways. Cowling admires Geras’s extensive secondary reading on the Holocaust, which allows him to refute Rorty’s speculation that people helped Jews because of prior connections. Cowling argues that both Geras and Rorty engage in speculation about torture. Cowling argues that Rorty also speculates about the inability of the oppressed to present their point of view, and that Geras could have used the work of Paolo Freire to criticize him. Most importantly, Cowling argues that Geras’s critique of Rorty’s pragmatism could have been strengthened by a discussion of Rorty’s book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, together with criticisms made of it by philosophers of mind.
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