Liberal Ironist, What

“This book tries to show how things look if we drop the demand for a theory which unifies the public and the private, and are content to treat the demands of self-creation and of human solidarity as equally valid, yet forever incommensurable.  It sketches a figure whom I call the ‘liberal ironist.’  I borrow my definition of ‘liberal’ from Judith Shklar, who says that liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing we do…”

“I shall define an ironist as someone who fulfills three conditions: (1) She has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes that argument phrased in her present vocabulary can neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts; (3) insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others; that it is in touch with a power not herself.  Ironists who are inclined to philosophize see the choice between vocabularies as made neither within a neutral and universal metavocabulary nor by an attempt to fight one’s way past appearances to the real, but simply by playing the new off against the old.”

-Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity


3 thoughts on “Liberal Ironist, What

  1. Pingback: David Brooks’ Journey, Guerilla Ontology, and His Recent Column on Description as Prescription | The Liberal Ironist

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  3. Pingback: Revolution, Like Normal Politics, Makes Strange Bedfellows | The Liberal Ironist

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