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Romanticism and Pragmatism: Richard Rorty and the Idea of a by U. Schulenberg

By U. Schulenberg

This interdisciplinary undertaking is positioned on the boundary among literary experiences and philosophy. Its leader concentration is on American Romanticism and it examines paintings by means of a couple of favourite writers and philosophers, from Whitman and Thoreau to Barthes and Rorty.

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Extra resources for Romanticism and Pragmatism: Richard Rorty and the Idea of a Poeticized Culture

Example text

Without our activity and creativity, this world would not exist. A central passage in “The Ethical Basis of Metaphysics” reads as follows: We must discard, therefore, the notion that in the constitution of the world we count for nothing, that it matters not what we do, because Reality is what it is, whatever we may do. It is true on the contrary that our action is essential and indispensable, that to some extent the world (our world) is of our making and that without us nothing is made that is made.

In order to understand Rorty’s narrative on the rise of a literary culture, one has to consider the role that this idea plays in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. At the beginning of the first chapter (“The Contingency of Language”), Rorty advances the argument that what unites the German idealists, the French revolutionaries, and the Romantic poets is that they understood, at the end of the eighteenth century, “that anything could be made to look good or bad, important or unimportant, useful or useless, by being redescribed” (1989: 7).

By becoming acquainted with so many alternative vocabularies and ways of being human, the literary intellectual enlarges her self. Because of her reading she is introduced to a great number of alternative purposes, and ways of expressing those purposes, and she is thus given the possibility of radically questioning traditional vocabularies and explanations. To put it simply, the literary intellectual’s reading leads to her self-creation; it offers her the possibility of creating an autonomous self.

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