Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty, one of the truly great American philosophers, died Friday at the age of 75.

The New York Times reported the news this morning with a thoughtful obituary that was briefly featured on the homepage - not exactly where you'd expect to find reports of a philosopher's death.

As the Times' piece says, "Mr. Rorty’s inventive work on philosophy, politics, literary theory and more made him one of the world’s most influential contemporary thinkers." Rorty captivated me in college and was the focus of my study of political theory and philosophy. His writing was accessible, conversational and unlike any other philosopher I read. In fact, I have continued to read his work, including his latest collection of essays, published just a few months ago.

More than anything else, Rorty brought philosophy and literature into the here and now. In his view, a theorist or writer should be part of the social and political conversation and help improve the lives of people. His example was the American pragmatist John Dewey - our example is Richard Rorty.