SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Piety and Natural Piety, William James and Richard Rorty

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The idea of natural piety, common to Wordsworth and Dewey, contrasts with the idea of piety common throughout the Western philosophical and theological tradition. I sketch the contrast between these two ideas and explore the ways they are differently realized in some works of William James and Richard Rorty. James embraces fully the natural piety obvious in the romantics and the classical pragmatists, but Richard Rorty falls away from the fullness of the classical pragmatists commitment to natural piety. In one specific way, Rorty embraces a version of the fixity in Plato’s understanding of piety and consequently he falls short of classical pragmatists understanding of the relation between humanity and nature.


Stuart Rosenbaum    
Baylor University


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