Tartaglia, JPF (2014) Rorty's thesis of the cultural specificity of philosophy. Philosophy East and West: a quarterly of comparative philosophy, 65 (4). 1016 -1036. ISSN 1527-943X

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In his brief consideration of non-Western philosophy between 1989 and 1991, Richard Rorty argued that dialogue between Western philosophy and non-Western traditions is not constructive since it almost inevitably involves fundamental misunderstanding, and he even expressed doubt about whether non-Western philosophy exists. This reaction seems out of character, given that Rorty specialised in forging unlikely alliances between philosophers from different Western traditions, and was an enthusiastic advocate of edification through hermeneutic engagement with unfamiliar vocabularies. I argue that given Rorty’s conception of philosophy as a literary tradition, he had no reason to exclude non-Western figures, and that his various arguments against the desirability of comparative philosophy – based on the different purposes of different traditions, their different conceptual schemes, and his notion of ‘transcultural character’ - are all inconsistent with more characteristic elements of his thought, as well as independently unconvincing. The underlying reason Rorty adopted this combative stance towards comparative philosophy, I argue, is that non-Western philosophy undermines his critique of Western philosophy, which depends on a cultural specificity thesis according to which philosophical problems are rooted in obsolete European social needs. Against this thesis, I conclude by arguing that philosophy has a natural subject-matter.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ©University of Hawaii Press
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2015 14:03
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2017 12:57
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/696

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