By Richard M. Rorty

Filenote: PDF is searchable photo ocr. PDF has 184 pages and test from hardbook edition.
Publish 12 months note: First released 1998. content material from The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures within the historical past of yankee CiviUzation in 1997.

Must the sins of America's previous poison its wish for the longer term?

Lately the yank Left, retreating into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's disgrace, has responded certain in either be aware and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one in all America's most efficient philosophers demanding situations this misplaced new release of the Left to appreciate the position it will probably play within the nice culture of democratic highbrow exertions that began with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

How have nationwide delight and American patriotism come to appear an endorsement of atrocities--from slavery to the slaughter of local american citizens, from the rape of historical forests to the Vietnam conflict? Achieving Our Country lines the resources of this debilitating mentality of disgrace within the Left, in addition to the damage it does to its proponents and to the rustic. on the middle of this background is the clash among the outdated Left and the hot that arose in the course of the Vietnam struggle period. Richard Rorty describes how the paradoxical victory of the antiwar circulate, ushering within the Nixon years, inspired a dissatisfied iteration of intellectuals to pursue "High Theory" on the price of contemplating where of principles in our universal lifestyles. during this flip to idea, Rorty sees a retreat from the secularism and pragmatism championed by means of Dewey and Whitman, and he decries the tendency of the heirs of the recent Left to theorize concerning the usa from a distance rather than engaging within the civic paintings of shaping our nationwide future.

In the absence of a colourful, lively Left, the perspectives of intellectuals at the American correct have come to dominate the general public sphere. This galvanizing ebook, tailored from Rorty's Massey Lectures of 1997, takes step one towards redressing the imbalance in American cultural existence by way of rallying these at the Left to the civic engagement and thought wanted for "achieving our country."

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Additional info for Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Example text

Society. is the all Dewey was as convinced as a social construction, that discur- way down to the But he insisted that the only point of soci- to construct subjects capable of ever richer, bottom of our more novel, ever forms of human happiness. The vocabulary in which Dewey suggested we discuss our social problems and our pohtical initiatives was part of his attempt to develop a discur- sive practice suitable for that project of social construction. ^^ Whitman and Dewey urged Americans compatible with remembering that feel is we expanded to our boundaries by massacring the tribes which blocked our way, we that we had broke the word pledged in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and that we caused the death of a milHon Vietnamese out of sheer macho arrogance.

Like own Whitman, Hegel, had no interest in preservation or protection. He wanted competition and argument between forms of human tical their discords — life a poetic agon, in would be resolved alternative which jarring in previously dialec- unheard har- AMERICAN NATIONAL PRIDE monies. The Hegelian idea of "progressive evolution," which was litical and the nineteenth century's great contribution to posocial thought, is that everybody gets played off against everybody else. This should occur nonviolently if possible, but violently if necessary, as America in 1861.

This distrust of humanism, with theory, dialectical even had an eschatology. " It leads them to look for a frame of reference outside the process of experimentation and decision that is an individual or a national hfe. Grand theories eschatologies like Hegel's or Marx's, inverted eschatologies Hke Heidegger's, and rationalizations of hopelessness hke Foucault's and Lacan's — satisfy the to satisfy. These are urges might cease to feel. urges that theology used which Dewey hoped Americans Dewey wanted Americans to share a civic religion that substituted Utopian striving for claims to theological In knowledge.

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