Audio: Conference on Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature


On November 6, there was a one-day conference at Royal Holloway, University of London on Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. It included talks by a very distinguished group of philosophers: Robert Brandom, Bjorn Ramberg, Michael Williams, and Albrecht Wellmer. The Backdoor Broadcasting Company has now made audio of their talks (along with audio of the formal responses and the Q&A sessions) available on their website. To visit their site and access the audio files, please click here.

Here is a description of the event:

In 1979 Richard Rorty published his magnum opus, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. The headlining ambition of the book is to complete a turn Rorty discerned in current analytic philosophy against a constellation of ideas informed by the assumption that Mind serves as the foundation of epistemic authority. By setting this in a broader ‘therapeutic’ context inspired by Heidegger and Wittgenstein, the aim is to ‘liberate’ philosophers from their epistemologically fixated inquiries and, in the spirit of the book’s other hero, Dewey, provide them with a new intellectual task: helping to spread the ‘precious values’ of the Enlightenment by playing their part in “continuing the conversation of the West”. Its attempt to transform the philosopher from epistemologist to hermeneuticist makes Philosophy… more existential than programmatic in character. Nevertheless, its synthesis of the pragmatic and behaviourist elements in Sellars, Quine and Davidson with the historicism of Kuhn presents a challenge to those who wish to retain a ‘realist’ or ‘transcendental’ standpoint for inquiry, and thus aim to draw a methodological line in the sand between philosophy and science, or between philosophy and other ‘kinds of writing’. The purpose of this conference is to invite the speakers to address what they perceive to be the relevance of Philosophy… to their own work, respecting either its substantive claims or its conception of the contemporary role of the philosopher and the methods he or she should pursue (or both). Confirmed speakers: Robert Brandom (Pittsburgh) Bjorn Ramberg (Oslo) Michael Williams (Johns Hopkins) Albrecht Wellmer (Berlin).

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