Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 1995
Rorty, Ironist Theory, and Socio-Political Control
In Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Richard Rorty courageously takes a stand against the public dissemination of ironist philosophical theory, such as that produced by Nietzsche, because he sees it as being socially undermining and irreconcilable in theoretical terms with liberal democratic values. And yet, the intellectuals in his ideal society would, privately, share many of the same views from which Rorty would desire that the general public be protected. Thus Rorty would appear to trade tensions between the individual and the state for tensions between the intellectual and the nonintellectual---a dubious improvement. By redescribing both the motives of the typical ironist theorist and his basic view of large-scale, sociopolitical structure I will try to reinstate the social value of ironist theory. Throughout the paper I will fomlulate perspectives and raise questions illustrative of such theory and aimed at trying to maintain as full and open a communication as possible between the individual, whether intellectual or not, and the sociopolitical structures within which he finds himself.