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Neil Gross’s Deweyan Account of Rorty’s Intellectual Development
Abstract

Abstract:

Neil Gross’s Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher provides a case study by which readers can judge whether Gross’s “intellectual self concepts” rescue the “new sociology of ideas” from the social determinism of the “old sociology of knowledge” associated with the work of Karl Mannheim, Émile Durkheim, C. Wright Mills, Talcott Parsons, and Herbert Marcuse. According to Gross, Rorty balanced his intellectual self concept of a leftist American patriot with socially imposed “strategic career concerns.” This article argues that Gross’s methodology succeeds in a way that Dewey scholars should welcome because it is consistent with Dewey’s socialization of the self. This strategy allows Gross to avoid reducing Rorty to a mere social product or to a socially transcendent creative genius. By arguing that his theoretical approach will improve biographical scholarship, Gross has penned a book that is also truer to Deweyan fallibalism than Rortyian ironism.



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