Wittgenstein, Habermas and Rorty

In this blog I pay a lot of attention to Wittgenstein, Habermas and Rorty. There are some different reasons for that. One reason is that I think they are all good philosophers. Another reason is that they are all concerned with ‘metaphilosophical’ questions, such as ‘what is philosophy?’ and ‘what should philosophy be?’ All of them are mainly known as ”philosophers” (Habermas may be slight exception as he is known in different diciplines), and are amongst the most famous ones, and thus naturally owns a position in the academic philosophers discourse. Since they are all famous, it makes it easier to refer to them, and easier to get attention from people who know them since before. I do not simply choose them because I think they are the best philosophers. In my opinion there are many great philosophers that never had ”philosophy” as their official profession – and thus usually don’t get called philosophers at all.

Regarding Habermas and Rorty, they are quite different, but yet stood close to eachother. Rorty called Habermas “the leading systematic philosopher of our time” and Habermas held a flattering speech in memory of Rorty; ”in this country, Richard Rorty like almost no other did indeed restore philosophy’s public importance”.

Habermas and Rorty did also have their disputes. Habermas in defense of his kind of rationalism, and Rorty dismissing that as nonsensical. It is not at all in my interest to argue whether Rorty or Habermas is right or wrong. I have no set opinion in that dispute, and see not much point in having any set opinions. The important differences I notice between them is not any differences in ”opinions”, but rather differences in attitudes (a topic I may write more on later on, “the ‘myth’ of disagreements”).

Both Habermas and Rorty show a lot of gratitude to Wittgenstein. To Rorty, Wittgenstein was one of his philosophical heroes along with Dewey and Heidegger. And Wittgenstein is also one of the main influences of Habermas. However they differ from Wittgenstein, in the sense that they are more ”political”. Habermas calls Rorty’s practice ”transforming and liberating” as opposed to Wittgenstein’s ”quietist and thus conservative”. Example of Wittgenstein’s “quietism”: ”Our only task is to be just. That is, we must only point out and resolve the injustices of philosophy, and not posit new parties – and creeds.”


About Dandre

Former student of philosophy, maths and literature. Now studying master program in sociology. Some thinkers of central interest include Ludwig Wittgenstein, C. G. Jung and Pierre Bourdieu.
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