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Richard Rorty’s anti-representationalism: a critical study

Taylor, George Benedict 2014. Richard Rorty’s anti-representationalism: a critical study. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In this study I argue that Richard Rorty’s anti-representationalist philosophy arises from a misguided belief that realists are compelled to argue that we need a single and exclusive “mirror-like” form of representation to capture reality. I argue that Rorty fails to appreciate the fact that realists do not have to absolutely identify reality with a particular mirror-like representation of it and nor do they have to fall prey to an invidious distinction between reality and the various ways that we do represent it. I argue that we need not associate realism with the kind of absolutism that Rorty associates it with. To illustrate this I challenge Rorty’s attempt to claim that Nietzsche also rejects realism and interpret Nietzsche’s perspectivism as a form of realism. I also challenge Rorty’s anti-representationalism in the context of his political philosophy. In order to do this I assess the role that Rorty assigns to the poet in his liberal utopia by examining the work of Sylvia Plath and Tony Harrison. I also discuss the various positions that Hilary Putnam has adopted in order to explore different possibilities within realism and representationalism. I conclude that Putnam’s internal realism concedes too much to Rorty and that his earlier external realism is a better alternative.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2016 01:30

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