Richard Rorty, 1931–2007, American philosopher. b. New York City. After studying at the Univ. of Chicago (B.A. 1949, M.A. 1952) and Yale (Ph.D. 1956), Rorty taught philosophy at Wellesley College (1958–61) and Princeton (1961–82), humanities at the Univ. of Virginia (1982–98), and literature at Stanford Univ. (1998–2005). Although he edited The Linguistic Turn (1967), which is considered an indispensable introduction to analytic philosophy, Rorty soon experienced doubts about philosophy as a privileged investigation of truth and published his well-known and extremely influential work, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), in which he attacked the traditional idea of philosophy as a form of higher knowledge. He subsequently advocated a form of pragmatism that drew on the insights of Darwin, Hegel, and others as well as those of Dewey and was marked by a rejection of what he saw as the scientism- and metaphysics-tainted concerns of modern epistemology. His later works include Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (1988), Objectivity, Relativism and Truth (1991), Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in 20th-Century America (1998), and Philosophy and Social Hope (1999).
See interviews with Rorty ed. by D. Nystrom and K. Puckett (1998) and E. Mendieta (2006); studies by H. J. Saatkamp, Jr., ed. (1995), R. A. Kuipers (1997), M. Melkonian (1999), R. B. Brandom, ed. (2000), A. Malachowski, ed. (1990 and 4 vol., 2002), and C. Guignon and D. R. Hiley, ed. (2003).