Dennett and others on Rorty

Richard Posner, Brian Eno, Mark Edmundson, Jurgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Virginia Heffernan, Michael Berube and Stanley Fish remember Richard Rorty. This is Daniel Dennett writing, in Slate (via Jonah Lehrer at The Frontal Cortex):

Daniel_dennettI first met Dick Rorty in 1970 when he invited me (all the way from UC Irvine) to give a talk at Princeton—the first talk I ever gave to an audience of philosophers—and then hosted an unforgettable party at his house afterward. His two 1972 papers “Dennett on Awareness” in Phil. Studies and “Functionalism, Machines, and Incorrigibility” in J.Phil. put my work in the limelight, and he continued through the years to write with insight and appreciation about my work, so I owe a great debt to him over and above all I learned from him in his writing and in our conversations and debates. Dick was always trying to enlist me, an avowed Quinian, to his more radical brand of pragmatism, and I always resisted his inducements, feeling like a stick in the mud. But this didn’t always stop Dick from re-creating me—or others he more-or-less agreed with—in his own radical image. In one of these discussions, which took place in St. Louis in 1981 or thereabouts, I decided to tease him by inventing the “Rorty Factor”: Take anything Dick Rorty says and multiply it by .742 to get the truth! (See his “Contemporary Philosophy of Mind” and my “Comments on Rorty” in Synthese in 1982.)

We continued in this vein for years. At one three-hour lunch in a fine restaurant in Buenos Aires, we traded notes on what we thought philosophy ought to be, could be, shouldn’t be, and he revealed something that I might have guessed but had never thought of. I had said that it mattered greatly to me to have the respect of scientists—that it was important to me to explain philosophical issues to scientists in terms they could understand and appreciate. He replied that he didn’t give a damn what scientists thought of his work; he coveted the attention and respect of poets!

More here.

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