Abstract

This article argues that the "linguistic turn" in analytic philosophy had a deep and significant impact on the development of Richard Rorty's pragmatism. One of the central features of the "linguistic turn" was its attention to the role of language in mediating questions of philosophy, and, in Rorty's hands, the "linguistic turn" drew philosophy very close to rhetorical theory. However, I argue that Rorty failed to engage or embrace rhetorical theory in any substantive way. This meant that his pragmatism cleaved philosophy off from the social democratic project. Such a separation of philosophy from the problems of maintaining and cultivating democracy abandons an important strand of first generation pragmatism. This amounts to a missed opportunity. By complimenting the linguistic turn with a robust account of the role of rhetoric in socio-political affairs, Rorty could have tied philosophy to social democracy in just the manner that Dewey had hoped. But instead Rorty is constrained by the tradition of philosophy and unable to make the "linguistic turn" into any kind of rhetorical turn.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2079
Print ISSN
0031-8213
Pages
pp. 156-181
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-24
Open Access
No
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