SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

Papers Proceedings »

Going Backwards to Go Forward: Language and Experience in Rorty and Classical Pragmatism

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Russell J. Duvernoy
University of Oregon
United States

Abstract: Rorty’s application of the ‘linguistic turn’ to pragmatism has been both criticized and lauded. Critical concerns have centered around Rorty’s insistence on the contingency of linguistic practice. Critics contend that this over-emphasis on language has caused pragmatism to lose touch with a full-bodied experience. This paper voices a version of this criticism. It argues that Rorty’s method of avoiding foundationalism relies upon a distinction between cause and justification which is not adequately supported by our experiences of meaning. Moreover, Rorty’s account leaves no viable means of allowing for experiences as meaningfully related to the world in a not merely linguistic way. The argument I develop calls for a broadened theoretical account of the relationship between meaning, experience, and language, while simultaneously remaining cognizant of Rorty’s work in exposing the dangers of any foundational appeal to direct experience as final authority.


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