To honor William James on his birthday, here is another one of my favorites. For "true philosophers"😉 is no final valley (equilibrium) in the forest, only perpetual new joys and new sorrows (ridges): "And yet if he be a true philosopher he must see that there is nothing final
in any actually given equilibrium of human ideals, but that, as our present laws and customs have fought and conquered other past ones, so they will in their turn be overthrown by any newly discovered order which will hush up the complaints that they still give rise to, without
producing others louder still."

Unfortunately, this inspiring vision is slightly marred by James' backsliding into the trope of asymptotic meliorism: "The pure philosopher can only follow the windings of the spectacle, confident that the line of least resistance will always be
towards the richer and the more inclusive arrangement, and that by one tack after another some approach to the kingdom of heaven is incessantly made."

If James had been a more "true" or "pure" Darwinian, he would have fully embraced that evolution is not directed-it does not
"tack" in an overall direction. It is a wonderful random walk, which over aeons will travel everywhere, not just somewhere.

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More from @ironick

11 Jan
What a serendipitous event: I just (re)stumbled across Richard Rorty's favorite William James passage (and no, it's not "truth is a compliment..."):
«The difference between the two views of morality that I have been discussing in these remarks is well illustrated by the contrast
between the pope’s dismissive reference to “the ego and its desires,” and my favorite passage in the writings of the American philosopher William James. James wrote as follows: “Every de facto claim creates insofar forth an obligation. Take any demand however slight which any
creature, however weak, may make. Ought it not for its own sole sake to be satisfied? If not, prove why not. The only possible kind of proof you could adduce would be the exhibition of another creature who should make a demand that went the other way.”»

Rorty later refers to
Read 6 tweets
2 Oct 21
@jensensuther @ikesharpless @Jeffrey_Howard_ Your mention of Brandom reminded me that he said something that I interpret as a profoundly moving paean to freedom as a means to fruitfulness.

"It is our capacity to transform the vocabularies in which we live and move and have our being, and so to create new ways of being ImageImageImage
@jensensuther @ikesharpless @Jeffrey_Howard_ (for creatures like us). Our moral worth is our dignity as potential contributors to the [fruitful] Conversation.
The vocabulary vocabulary brings into view the possibility that our overarching public purpose should be to ensure that a hundred private flowers blossom,
@jensensuther @ikesharpless @Jeffrey_Howard_ and a hundred novel schools of thought contend."

If that's not a claim that the purpose of expressive freedom is ramifying fruitfulness, I don't know what is.

PS The pages are from "Rorty and His Critics".
Read 7 tweets
2 Jul 21
Thanks SO much for recommending this essay. It triggered a powerful epiphany for me: 'tragic meliorism' is another way of saying 'will to power'. This passage makes the connection:
«As I understand the pragmatic perspective on life, it is an attempt to make it possible for men
to live in a world of inescapable tragedy, which flows from the conflict of moral ideals, without lamentation, defiance, or make-believe. According to this perspective, even in the best of human worlds there will be tragedy—tragedy perhaps without bloodshed but certainly not
without tears. It focuses its analysis on problems of normative social inquiry in order to reduce the costs of tragedy. Its view of man is therefore melioristic, not optimistic. Some philosophers belittle man by asking him to look at the immensities without; others belittle him
Read 9 tweets
11 May 21
Thanks for 👇. It got me to read his last lecture. In it, he makes an astonishing claim:
"[T]he parochial, historically-conditioned character of justification is compatible with the eternal and absolute character of truth."
I find it almost impossible to believe Rorty said
this. Here's the context:
«But pragmatists, at least those of my sect, do not think that anything—either the physical world or the consensus of inquirers—makes beliefs true. We have as little use for the notion of "what makes a true sentence true" as we do for that of "what a
true sentence corresponds to." On our view, all consensus does is help us recognize moral truths. We can cheerfully agree that truths—all kinds of truths—are eternal and absolute. It was true before the foundations of the world were laid both that 2 + 2 = 4 and that I should be
Read 8 tweets
12 Jan 21
@clarkjosephf @QuillRKukla @carl_b_sachs First, Thank you for sharing your "opinionated introduction"/reading list. I love it!
Second, Thank you for highlighting the @QuillRKukla essay on stances. It's amazing! It brings together several threads I was in the middle of working on: the interpretive stance, coping,
@clarkjosephf @QuillRKukla @carl_b_sachs Davidsonian triangulation, and of course pragmatism. Their generalization of the stance concept to economic stance and interpretive stance was EXACTLY what I was getting at in my tweet.

My favorite line: "There is no neutral stance." In other words, there is no
@clarkjosephf @QuillRKukla @carl_b_sachs neutral/universal way of interpreting patterns. Interestingly, Rorty made a very similar claim regarding his panrelationalism: "Naturalism as the claim that (a) there is no occupant of space-time that is not linked in a single web of causal relations to all other occupants and
Read 10 tweets
2 Dec 20
@Jeffrey_Howard_ @FreihandDenker "There doesn't appear to be any..completely moral action."

It's much more than that.

"Anything can be made to look good or being redescribed." -- Rorty

So ANY action can be redescribed as moral or immoral.

When that sinks in, the contingency of morality is staggering.
@Jeffrey_Howard_ @FreihandDenker Examples:

Eating an apple. The ultimate sin.

Sacrificing your son. The ultimate act of faith.

@Jeffrey_Howard_ @FreihandDenker BTW, Rorty wasn't the first to make this claim about redescription. I'm collecting such claims. I've only found two other so far:

1) "I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for
Read 4 tweets

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