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No Obituaries for Rorty: Where’s the Mainstream Media?

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21 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    There probably are very few people in the mainstream media that have a basic knowledge of the history of philosophy and are up to speed on contemporary philosophy. I suspect tomorrow we’ll see some obituaries.

    If I may: There’s an interesting discussion over at Crooked Timber about Rorty’s work and his status vis-a-vis the profession of philosophy, and Brian Leiter has alerted us to a nice site (that of philosopher Farhang Erfani at American University) that contains Rorty’s writings (some online), among other things: http://www.continental-philosophy.org/2007/06/10/richard-rorty-1931-2007/

  2. Marty Lederman says:

    Washington Post has a long and extremely informative obit. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/10/AR2007061001268.html

  3. Marty Lederman says:

    The Times, too. This might simply be a case where the leading papers decided it was worth a substantial, substantive obit, they didn’t have one pre-written, and they didn’t feel the urgent news need to provide a short notice obit in their Sunday papers.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/11/obituaries/11rorty.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

  4. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Thanks Marty.

    Rorty’s travels “from Australia to the Brazilian rain forest to indulge an interest in bird-watching” brings to mind another quintessentially American philosopher and gentle soul, Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000), “a world-renowned ornithologist, whose book Born to Sing (1973) is a classic interpretation and world survey of bird song.”

  5. Frank says:

    If anyone is interested in the pre-written obit business, James Wood’s Book Against God gives a droll fictionalized account of some such transactions.

    I agree, Dan, the passing of Rorty is a big deal, and interpretive social science/philosophy has been dealt a heavy blow by his and Geertz’s deaths.

  6. Irony, anyone? says:

    Does no one see the irony here?

  7. The Times and Post undoubtedly had full obits pre-written for Rorty. They have many thousands of them filed away, revised on a schedule, and ready to go with only date and maybe cause of death inserted in a placeholder.

    Many obits run some days after the person dies, for reasons as banal as space constraints or short summer staffing. No offense to Rorty, I’m sure.

  8. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I don’t see the irony, but perhaps I’m a dullard. There’s some evidence of contingency and solidarity however;…maybe that leads to a little irony.

  9. Nietzsche is dead says:

    Maybe the newspapers had other things to do than to consider obscure academic events, like report the news. Or perhaps the mainstream media recognizes that we have the power to say what it means to be human and they didn’t find Rorty’s passing all that important to humanity. The irony, though, is the cry throughout the academic blogosphere that a great man was ignored, as if his meaning to you only matters if mainstream media organizations concur and numerous others are compelled to reflect on his passing, not to mention that many doubted he was in fact dead if it wasn’t reported as fact in the press, which sounds like the correspondence theory of truth to me.

  10. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    “as if his meaning to you only matters if mainstream media organizations concur and numerous others are compelled to reflect on his passing”–Hardly, and a rather strange inference to make….

    “not to mention that many doubted he was in fact dead if it wasn’t reported as fact in the press”–Really? I’ve seen no evidence of that proposition.

    There are a number of virtues intrinsic to a correspondence theory of truth, as Michael P. Lynch, among others, would argue, and it remains a more than plausible theory of truth.

  11. Not Rorty says:

    I never doubted the correspondence theory of truth.

    You need not see evidence for it to exist. But in this case, assuming you read the post above, you have: “The lack of one made me think that perhaps the story of Rorty’s passing was in error…

    “a rather strange inference to make”

    Why, I’m recreating myself. My inferences need not be true.

  12. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    I read the post above, and it was ONE person who said he thought “PERHAPS the story of Rorty’s passing was in error,” and thus it was not the case that “MANY doubted he was in fact dead,” hence the request for evidence for your claim.

    No, your inferences need not be true, and several aren’t.

    What was your point about the correspondence theory of truth above? Was it a gratuitous, meaningless remark?

  13. Rorty lives says:

    It had meaning for me.

  14. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Well, if you can’t explain it to others, it has the unintelligibility of a “private language” or the practical effects of solipsism.

  15. Confused says:

    Depends on what you mean by “can’t”.

    Do you mean “others are incapable of understanding it because of some defect in their capacity for understanding”? Or do you mean “it cannot possibly be explained in terms that make sense to any well-functioning human brain”?

  16. Confused says:

    Depends on what you mean by “can’t”.

    Do you mean “others are incapable of understanding it because of some defect in their capacity for understanding”? Or do you mean “it cannot possibly be explained in terms that make sense to any well-functioning human brain”?

  17. Confused says:

    Depends on what you mean by “can’t”.

    Do you mean “others are incapable of understanding it because of some defect in their capacity for understanding”? Or do you mean “it cannot possibly be explained in terms that make sense to any well-functioning human brain”?

  18. Not Confused About This says:

    I read the post above, and it was ONE person who said he thought “PERHAPS the story of Rorty’s passing was in error,” and thus it was not the case that “MANY doubted he was in fact dead,” hence the request for evidence for your claim.

    Sure, but he’s a smart guy, so if him, then possibly others. In any event, if you’re going to play around with logic, you should know that “many” = “some” = “at least one”. Like I said, you had the evidence right in front of your face.

  19. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    When I compared Rorty’s interest in bird-watching to Hartshorne’s ornithological expertise above, I did not know that Hartshorne was in fact one of Rorty’s teachers at the University of Chicago and supervised his MA thesis on Whitehead. All of this courtesy of the revised entry on Rorty in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rorty/

  20. Confused again says:

    Is that Patrick S. O’Donnell? It reads like Brian Leiter.

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