One of the biggest problems with Rorty is that - despite what he thought of himself, and broadcasted about himself, his self-conception, his self-representation - in fact, he had an enormously inflated notion of philosophy, of what philosophy is capable of, and of what specific philosophers had achieved.  For instance, he tells us in the introduction to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature that "We owe the notion of a 'theory of knowledge' based on an understanding of 'mental processes' to... Locke."  Wrong.  And "We owe the notion of 'the mind' as a separate entity in which 'processes' occur to... Descartes."  Wrong.  And "We owe the notion of philosophy as a tribunal of pure reason, upholding or denying the claims of the rest of culture to... Kant."  That's closer to being true, but still wrong.  This assumes that philosophers matter much too much to what the rest of us think about things.  Generally, philosophers have only a marginal, almost undetectable influence on the thoughts of other people, if any.  Thank God.  Most of us go through our lives blissfully unaffected by the thoughts of philosophers.  

This fundamental error of Rorty's - this massive collective hubris on behalf of philosophy departments, wishfully imagining that philosophy books are somehow magically affecting the rest of the world - is shared by Rorty's philosophical cousins, the deconstructionists, who like to imagine that [Cartesian, Kantian, Lockean, etc.] philosophical ideas have lodged themselves in most people's brains, and it's necessary to do some work of deconstruction to dislodge these notions before progressive political change is possible.  But no such deconstruction of philosophical assumptions is necessary, because they aren't there to begin with.  Most people are utterly free of such thoughts.  Indeed, the only way that most people will even begin to entertain such notions is if they are accidentally installed there by a passing deconstructionist.  What Karl Kraus said about psychoanalysis applies to deconstruction, too: it is, itself, the disease which it purports to cure.

Rorty tells us that the purpose of his book is "therapeutic."  At the beginning of his book, he says that "The aim of the book is to undermine the reader's confidence in 'the mind' as something about which one should have a 'philosophical' view, in 'knowledge' as something about which their ought to be a 'theory,' and which has 'foundations,' and in 'philosophy' as it has been conceived since Kant."  [scare-quotes all included.]  No need.  No one out there is suffering from any such "confidence."  He's trying to disabuse us of something of which we were never abused.


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