Meritocracy and its Discontents   /   Summer 2016   /    Symposium

On the Business of Philosophy

Plato’s Symposium (detail) by Giambattista Gigola (1769–1841); Pinacoteca Tosio-Martinengo, Brescia, Italy; © DeA Picture Library/Art Resource, New York.

By the time Richard Rorty delivered the Page-Barbour lectures at the University of Virginia, in 2004, the main outlines of his thought were known far beyond philosophical circles, arguably having a greater influence on other academic fields and even the wider intellectual culture. Whether he liked it or not—and mostly he did not—Rorty was strongly identified with postmodernism, a broad intellectual movement characterized by, among other things, a posture of suspicion toward all “grand narratives” and systematic attempts to establish ultimate truths.

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