Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 39, 2014

Ramón del Castillo
Pages 421-437

The Hedgehog that Therefore He Was
On Rorty Again

In this paper I take Rorty’s self-description as a “hedgehog” as the starting point for a portrait of his intellectual temperament. I re-examine in the first instance Isaiah Berlin’s contrast between hedgehogs and foxes as inspired by the proverb of Archilocus. I then analyze, in philosophical terms, some differences between foxes and hedgehogs. I distinguish different types of hedgehogs in order to make clear exactly what kind of hedgehog Rorty was. In spite of his multiple interests and conversations, I argue, Rorty portrayed himself as a hedgehog with only one important idea: the need to overcome notions such as Truth and Reason and to promote a less cruel and more anti-authoritarian way of living. I claim that this single idea is better understood when we pay special attention as to why Rorty gave priority to literature over philosophy, why he made distinctions between different types of writers, and why one of his favorite writers, Nabokov, was only apparently a fox.