Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty

Synopsis

Richard Rorty is notorious for contending that the traditional, foundation-building and truth-seeking ambitions of systematic philosophy should be set aside in favour of a more hermeneutically guided project.

Excerpt

This book has some personal history behind it that may help explain its overall approach. Towards the end of my teenage years at school in the late 1960s, after various unsatisfactory infatuations with the classics, literary criticism, mathematics, psychology, economics and history, I discovered poetry. Or rather, that of Ezra Pound in particular. There was something tremendously exotic about both Pound’s use of language and his subject matter, something that transported me, in imaginary time and place, far beyond the confines of my local council estate. For here was a poet who had delved deep into the resources of culture and history, who, as Thom Gunn later pointed out, had learned from Browning “to speak through the mouths of others: a troubadour-warrior, a Chinese river merchant’s wife, Sextus Propertius, or an Italian Renaissance prince” (Gunn 2000: ix).

Furthermore, there was something sufficiently numinous about the lines to light up the deeper parts of my mind, parts that, despite my nodding acquaintance with Freud and Jung, I never knew to exist, yet alone expected to inhabit. Images from the Selected Poems in lines like “Grey olive leaves beneath a rain-cold sky” (Gentildonna) and “A wet leaf that clings to the threshold” (Liu Ch’e) flooded the kind of incandescent light into my awakening sensibility that it seemed would be everlastingly inextinguishable. For this light lingered soothingly at the core of consciousness throughout even the darkest adolescent ponderings.

Before long, however, reading Pound became disturbingly problematic. When I moved enthusiastically on to his enticingly large epic, the Cantos, I struggled valiantly to make the whole text cohere . . .

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