Macquarie University
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Richard Rorty: rethinking redemption in modernity

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:47 authored by Tracy Ann Llanera
My thesis reconstructs Richard Rorty's idea of redemption and reveals how it contributes to recent debates on the sacred in a secular age advanced by Charles Taylor, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly. In the first two chapters I introduce the paradoxical theme of redemption in Rorty's writings and I argue that redemption deeply motivates Rorty's philosopohical project. This creates the foundation for a philosophical legitimation of Rorty's work in relation to the task of diagnosing the modern spiritual condition, which I offer in the third chapter. Here I examine why Rorty, contra Taylor, Dreyfus and Kelly, identifies egotism rather than nihilism as our primary existential problem. I argue that Rorty offers two modes of redemption from egotism : self-creation and solidarity, which both entail losing the egotistic self in the process of self-enlargement. I then consider the link between egotism and nihilism : that prior to becoming nihilists, human beings first suffer from the egotism that Rorty's self-enlargement strategy tries to address. While there are advantages to Rorty's position, it is vulnerable to objections that I turn to in the fourth chapter. I conclude by praising Rorty's project of redemption for addressing the phenomenon of what Taylor calls being "spiritually out of joint" in a new way, notwithstanding the conceptual and practical problems behind his proposal.


Table of Contents

Chapter I. Rethinking Rorty -- Chapter II. Reconstructing redemption -- Chapter III. Redemption and the problems of modernity -- Chapter IV. Tensions and vulnerabilities -- Chapter V. Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 215-224

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nicholas Smith


Copyright Tracy Ann Llanera 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (vi, 224 pages)

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