SAAP Annual Meeting 2014

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Liberalism and/or Liberation: Assessing Utopian Politics of Richard Rorty and Enrique Dussel

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In this paper I explore some similarities and differences in the political philosophies of Dussel and Rorty. For both, the Enlightenment is understood to contain within itself two related but distinct elements. One strand of Enlightenment thought embodies a genuine yearning for political emancipation from unjustified structures of domination and oppression, while the other contains within itself seemingly intractable obstacles to genuine liberation, namely its rationalism. However, despite a large overlap between Rorty and Dussel in their appraisal of the Enlightenment, the political lessons they take away are quite different, leading Rorty to embrace ‚Äúpostmodernist bourgeois liberalism‚ÄĚ inspired by John Stuart Mill, and Dussel to embrace a philosophy of liberation inspired by Karl Marx and Emmanuel Levinas. I explore where, how, and why their political views converge and diverge.


Alan Reynolds    
University of Oregon
United States


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