Rorty’s socio-ethnocentrism: the problem of its justification

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‘Solidarity’ is one of the key concepts of the late Richard Rorty’s philosophy. Arguing that justification of knowledge is a matter of its acceptance by the community, Rorty reduces social relations to the discursive (intertextual or dialogical) ones. Thereby he faces a number of theoretical difficulties. Rorty’s willingness to substitute the idea of objectivity for that of solidarity is at odds with his socio-ethnocentrism. Antirepresentationalist attitude is not shared by the overwhelming majority of Rorty’s ‘cultural peers’, not to mention professional philosophers, but he strongly holds to antirepresentationalism, considering it to be sufficiently justified, not caring about what others think and whether such a strategy is politically relevant or desirable from a pragmatic point of view. Consequently, he endorses the picture of warrant as independent of communal opinion. Western (Anglo-Saxon) ethnocentrism, Rorty argues, is of a special kind: it is the ethnocentrism of a “we-community” (“we liberals”) which is dedicated to enlarging itself and creating more and more variegated, inclusive and heterogeneous society. It’s a worldview of a liberal “ironist” and cosmopolitan who is always aware of the contingency of her language and moral self, and who “has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses”. But to say, with Rorty, “We are lucky that our ethnocentrism is based on distrust of itself,” amounts to recognize the truth of anti-ethnocentrism. One who believes in cultural and social progress towards “a global, cosmopolitan, democratic, egalitarian, classless, casteless society” is de facto anti-ethnocentrist. Even if he denies it verbally.

About the authors

Igor D. Dzhokhadze

RAS Institute of Philosophy

Author for correspondence.

PhD in Philosophy, Leading Research Fellow, Head of the Department of Contemporary Western Philosophy. Institute of Philosophy

12/1 Goncharnaya Str., Moscow, Russian Federation, 109240


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