Monday, June 11, 2007

Richard Rorty Died

*I* alerted me to his death last night and I found this obit in the SFChron this morning. In the last few years, several philosophers who I have read, admired, and had the opportunity to see speak have died: Jacques Derrida, Iris Marion Young, Teresa Brennan and now Richard Rorty. This list, by the way, is not exhaustive, it is just what it is.

I only mention it because I remember, early in my grad school days being in awe of my professors who had taken seminars from Sartre, Foucault or Heidegger even. I couldn't imagine what it would've been like to be in such close contact with these giants. But, as I grew older, I realized that it was probably no different than having attended panels that Rorty was on or visiting Derrida's office hours. At bottom, these were people, academics and very approachable.

I don't have a lot of incisive things to say about Rorty other than he was one of the best writers in American Philosophy and quite a rebel. When I was still an undergraduate, I saw him go after John Searle in a heated debate about 'realism' (for my non-philosopher readers, yawns). Rorty thought he had 'nailed' Searle, Searle stood up and pointed out how he had misread his text, and then Rorty shirked his shoulders and said "Oh, Shoot." I thought that was one of the coolest moments in Philosophy for me.

Feel free to reminisce any Rorty stories you have in the comments.