From: Asher Haig <ahaig@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 21:28:18 -0400
on 4/10/01 8:44 PM, Nathan Goralnik at rhizome85@xxxxxxxx wrote:
> I think you'll agree with Rorty that working to eradicate racial, sexual,
> gender, and class oppression sounds like a good plan for our future. I think
> Rorty's public/private distinction just amounts to saying that, for example,
> Nietzsche's inegalitarianism doesn't necessarily mean that hierarchy is
> "good." Didn't Nietzsche himself say (in WTP?) that his work is "for
> thinkers, and thinkers only?"
You're reducing Rorty's position to Rorty's stated goals. It's much more
specific in its context (and general in its application). As pragmatism
denotes, the purpose is to create an "effective" politics. This seems to
come back to the question that we've addressed when discussion Nussbaum etc.
- what is "effective" politics? For Rorty it tends to mean "adopting"
radical positions regarding the subject and then using them in the context
of liberal policy-making.
Part of Rorty's public/private distinction is that we should make policies
in public (deal with "what counts" which for him amounts to material action,
regardless of what that action might mean as long as it is "liberal," which
means well-intentioned) and deal with our philosophical (political)
foundations in private. Rorty sees the transgression of those spaces as the
failing point of radical criticism because it leads, effectively, to policy
So yes, Rorty would like us to think and evaluate things, and he agrees with
most of the premises of that philosophical thought in which many people on
this list might engage, but that does not make him a radical critic or even
a friend to the radical critic. Like "radical" feminists (Nussbaum perhaps?
The label is artificial) have attempted to define a space for "Post-Modern"
feminists (again artificial) Rorty wishes to define a space for critics to
cricize; a space that is and will always remain clearly demarcated and
withdrawn from the political (liberal).
It might even make sense to call on Spivak's consideration of the role of
the Native Informant. Rorty, like many liberals, provides a mechanism for
using the Native Informant as a "foundation" for essentially anything,
including oppressive structures and hierarchies that exist in the
Footnoting critical theory does not make one critical. Recognizing that
theory can be a toolbox does not mean that one uses the tools.
It also ignores that hammers can both build houses and smash skulls.
Asher Haig ahaig@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
"We're concerned about AIDS inside our White House ? make no mistake about
it." -- Bush