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The picture of an ironist who is unwilling to be a liberal and a liberal who is unwilling to be an ironist (Foucault and Habermas)
Contingency, Irony, and Solidari
In: Marek Kwiek, Rorty’s Elective Affinities. The New Pragmatism and Postmodern Thought. Wydawnictwo Naukowe IF UAM. 1996, pp. 211-237.
Constructing the figure of the "liberal ironist" - the inhabitant of a liberal utopia sketched in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity - Rorty notes his differences with "an ironist who is unwilling to be a liberal" and with "a liberal who is unwilling to be an ironist", that is with Michel Foucault and Jürgen Habermas in his account. Both of them do not fit into his utopia, although for different reasons. Michel Foucault is not allowed to Rorty’s utopia because he lacks commitment in a specific, Rortyan sense of the "lack of hope", while Jürgen Habermas is committed and full of the social hope in question but he does not have a sense of contingency of his own vocabulary of moral reflection. Rorty’s hero of the future must be the bearer of both traits at the same time, it does not suffice to be merely an ironist or merely a liberal. If one took a look at the philosophy of recent decades, it would turn out, with a high degree of probability, that both aforementioned criteria could be met only by Rorty himself, for it is only he who claims that he can combine being an ironist and being a liberal. Rorty, having at his disposal two opposite sides of irony (serious/non-serious), for Habermas and Foucault uses its serious side (as opposed to Heidegger and Derrida, especially as far as the so-called "Heidegger affair" is concerned, to whom he applies its non-serious side). The relations with Habermas and Foucault are such that Rorty seems to radically distinguish himself both from Habermas (with a philosophical rather than political gesture) and from Foucault (with a political rather than philosophical gesture). Habermas turns out for him to be an admirer of liberal democracy devoted to attempts of its universal grounding, providing it with "philosophical foundations", while Foucault turns out for him to be an anarchist who is unwilling to accept the value of "we".
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