About two hundred and fifty years ago a young lad in Virginia chopped down his father’s English cherry tree. The important point about the story evidently is that the boy was instantly honest about what he had done. So presumably we are not supposed to enquire too keenly into his motives. Still, for all one’s admiration for young George Washington’s apparent candour, one does wonder. Richard Rorty, a more recent resident of Virginia, presents a similar problem. For many years now, from within the ranks of the academic establishment, he has been hacking away tirelessly at our Anglo-American philosophical traditions, urging us to clear away the old epistemological undergrowth, so that we can focus on stirring new postmodern vistas. In the process he has become the leading North American spokesman for a revolution in modern philosophy, a rejection of all searches for foundations, an enterprise which would see an end to traditional concerns and instead a concentration upon philosophy as one of the participants in a continuing cultural conversation, therapeutic rather than edifying.
- From a book review by Ian Johnston. Available here.