Richard Rorty: rethinking redemption in modernity
thesisposted 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.