Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Rehabilitation of Literary Criticism as a ‘Kind of Writing’


The contribution of Richard Rorty to literary studies has not gone unnoticed since the passing of the most prominent pragmatist philosopher of his generation in 2007. Rorty thought of himself as an 'auxiliary to the poet rather than the physicist' (Contingency), because he was convinced, as Gunter Leypold explains, that narrative has shown itself to be 'a more effective world-making tool than traditional moral philosophy', in part because human solidarity has no reasonable basis (151) . Alluding to the epochal novels of Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rorty famously suggested that the 'emergence of the human rights culture owes nothing to increased moral knowledge, and everything to hearing sad and sentimental stories' ('Human Rights' 172).

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Published 1 November 2013 in Volume 28 No. 4. Subjects: Philosophy.

Cite as: Curthoys, Ned. ‘Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Rehabilitation of Literary Criticism as a ‘Kind of Writing’.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, 2013, doi: 10.20314/als.8fd86b5ca3.