Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

, and Professor of Comparative Literature
Comparative literature
Comparative literature is an academic field dealing with the literature of two or more different linguistic, cultural or national groups...

 at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

. His complex intellectual background gave him a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the analytic
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century...

 tradition in philosophy, which he would later famously reject in favor of his own brand of pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...


The philosophical program he developed included a rejection of a representationalist account of knowledge, a concept he referred to as a "mirror of nature," which he saw as a holdover from Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

 and pervasive throughout the history of philosophy.

My principal motive is the belief that we can still make admirable sense of our lives even if we cease to have ... "an ambition of transcendence."

Introduction to Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers, Volume I (1991).

Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative.

Introduction to Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3 (1998).

Truthfulness under oath is, by now, a matter of our civic religion, our relation to our fellow citizens rather than our relation to a nonhuman power.

"John Searle on Realism and Relativism." Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3 (1998).

If I had to lay bets, my bet would be that everything is going to go to hell, but, you know, what else have we got except hope?

"Richard Rorty Interviewed by Gideon Lewis-Kraus." The Believer (magazine)|The Believer, June 2003.

Philosophers get attention only when they appear to be doing something sinister--corrupting the youth, undermining the foundations of civilization, sneering at all we hold dear. The rest of the time everybody assumes that they are hard at work somewhere down in the sub-basement, keeping those foundations in good repair. Nobody much cares what brand of intellectual duct tape is being used.

"Philosophical Convictions." The Nation| The Nation, June 14, 2004.