Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century by Richard M. Rorty

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By Richard M. Rorty

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Publish 12 months note: First released 1998. content material from The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures within the heritage of yankee CiviUzation in 1997.

Must the sins of America's previous poison its wish for the longer term?

Lately the yankee Left, chickening out into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's disgrace, has responded convinced in either observe and deed. In Achieving Our Country, certainly one of America's optimum philosophers demanding situations this misplaced new release of the Left to appreciate the function it could play within the nice culture of democratic highbrow exertions that begun with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

How have nationwide delight and American patriotism come to appear an endorsement of atrocities--from slavery to the slaughter of local americans, from the rape of old forests to the Vietnam battle? Achieving Our Country lines the resources of this debilitating mentality of disgrace within the Left, in addition to the damage it does to its proponents and to the rustic. on the middle of this background is the clash among the previous Left and the hot that arose through the Vietnam warfare period. Richard Rorty describes how the paradoxical victory of the antiwar move, ushering within the Nixon years, inspired a upset new release of intellectuals to pursue "High Theory" on the cost of contemplating where of principles in our universal existence. during this flip to conception, Rorty sees a retreat from the secularism and pragmatism championed via Dewey and Whitman, and he decries the tendency of the heirs of the recent Left to theorize in regards to the usa from a distance rather than partaking within the civic paintings of shaping our nationwide future.

In the absence of a colourful, energetic Left, the perspectives of intellectuals at the American correct have come to dominate the general public sphere. This galvanizing publication, tailored from Rorty's Massey Lectures of 1997, takes step one towards redressing the imbalance in American cultural existence via rallying these at the Left to the civic engagement and concept wanted for "achieving our country."

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Extra resources for Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

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I will accept noth- AMERICAN NATIONAL PRIDE ing which terms. ^° These passages in Whitman can be read made pragmatism both doctrine that its my soul. as presaging the original and infamous: refusal to believe in the existence of Truth, in the sense of something not made by human authority over human hands, something which has beings. The closest Hegel got to this pragmatist doctrine was his dictum that philosophy is its own time held in thought. Despite this historicism, Hegel could never bring himself to assert the primacy of the practical over the theoretical what Hilary Putnam, defining the essence of pragmatism, has called the Marx primacy of the agent point of view.

Neither to the Dewey nor Whitman, however, was committed view that things would inevitably go well for America, AMERICAN NATIONAL PRIDE that the American experiment in self-creation The price of temporalization ceed. is would suc- contingency. Because they rejected any idea of Divine Providence and any idea of immanent teleology, possibility that the Dewey and Whitman had and perhaps lead our species over "The United to failure a chff. else its way, As Whitman put States are destined either to geous history of feudalism, or dous to grant the vanguard of humanity may lose it, surmount the gor- prove the most tremen- of time.

The trouble with Europe, Whitman and Dewey thought, was that it tried too hard for knowledge: it tried to find an an- swer to the question of what human beings should be Hke. hoped to of the get authoritative guidance for first Europeans to suggest abandoning Wilhelm von Humboldt, philosopher which who a It human conduct. One this hope was founder of ethnography and a greatly influenced Hegel. " graph of his Democratic demands "two main cited Vistas. Whitman picked up On this Liberty in the first para- There Whitman says that Mill constituents, or sub-strata, for a truly 23 24 ACHIEVING OUR COUNTRY grand nationality full play for — 1st, a large variety Mill and Humboldt's "richest diversity" and Whitman's give us a template v^den life past, life free.

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