Between the New Left and Judaism
"That the work of a philosopher should be reduced to simply thinking about the solution of logical riddles, seems to me to be limiting. But that philosophy should identify with the ambition to save the world seems to me to be too radical." According to Hilary Putnam, the middle ground between the extremes of analytic philosophy and a purely emancipator impetus resides in a reinterpretation of the realist moment through the screen of pragmatism: in a new version of "pragmatic realism."
Born in Chicago in 1926, and currently teaching at Harvard University, Putnam arrived at this conviction by way of a very tortuous itinerary. His career as a post-analytic thinker, which extends with an encyclopedic range from the philosophy of mind to the philosophy of language, from epistemology to ethics, underwent a phase of profound crisis. During the sixties, concomitant with the pacifist commitment of the American left against the Vietnam War, Putnam threw himself headlong into a political odyssey which saw him serve as the Harvard faculty representative of Students for a Democratic Society and as an active member of a Maoist group, the Progressive Labor Party. Signs of this militancy survive in his interest, very eccentric for a philosopher of his background, in the historical theses of the Frankfurt school, and above all in one of its most recent heirs: Jürgen Habermas.
But that is not all. As for many people, the end of pacifist commitment was not resolved by Putnam in a simple return to the canonized confines of theoretical discipline; instead, it brought to light a