Volume 75, 2018
Theories of Knowledge and Epistemology
Inês Lacerda Araújo
Rorty’s Historicist and Pragmatic Conception of “Epistemology”
With “epistemology” between quotation marks I intend in this paper to show that Rorty’s conception is a critical one. His claims in favor of a culture where epistemology is not central are justified in a historicist and pragmatic point of view. There is no sense in looking for permanent criteria of knowledge (from the ideas for Plato to a priori transcendental categories for Kant). In a culture of freedom and solidarity epistemology would give place to hermeneutics, to practices of understanding. There are specific roles for proofs and experimentation in certain contexts like the one of science; one may require objectivity in argumentation; proofs are necessary in a trial. In epistemology, however, rules, constraints of a transcendental rationality, permanent categories all these are metaphors of mind representing reality. Without necessary and universal guidelines of knowledge, cultures would be more free, conversation and understanding would be practices preferable to permanent rules for truth. History shows what men did mainly in the name of truth was violence and dogmatism. Pragmatism is not utilitarianism, it is the vision of action in context, practices that can modify undesirable conditions of humanity, instead of one and only true theory (or knowledge conception, or religion faith).