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Postmodern Philosophy Critique & Analysis

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Submit a 1400 word analysis and critique of a prominent postmodern thinker's philosophy. Present a summary of the philosophy along with a reaction and critique. Support your position, and discuss your experiences that confirm or disconfirm your chosen philosophy. Choose only ONE from the following major postmodern thinkers:

Pierre Bourdieu

Hélène Cixous

Jacque Derrida

Michele Foucault

Martin Heidegger

Luce Irigaray

Julia Kristeva

Thomas Kuhn

Jacque Lacan

Jean-Francois Lyotard

Richard Rorty

220 words:
What is Robert C. Solomon claiming about how we can use philosophy to shape the direction of self-development in our children and ourselves?

220 words:
What are the ways in which schema theory and social representation research theorize developing conceptions of the self?

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Solution Summary

The solution is an extensive 2-part essay. Part 1 looks at the work of Richard Rorty particularly his philosophy of pragmatism and meaning creation via language games. This part of the solution which is an extensive APA format essay on itself has a word count of 2,873. It exemplifies Rorty's work by providing a 'dialouge' example to present meaning making via discourse. References are listed. Part 2 of the solution contains 2 'main parts' for it is a Q&A section discussing the ideas of Robert Solomon & his Cognitivist Claims in relation to parenting and an analysis and explanation of the Schema Theory in relation to Social Representation. Each of these 'parts' are written as their own 'mini-essay' following the APA format with their references listed. The Robert Solomon essay numbers at 382-words while the Schema Theory essay numbers at 292-words. A word version of this solution is attached for easy download and printing.

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Dear Student,
Hello. Of all the philosophers listed, my views are very much in tune with Richard Rorty's so the solution below is a review of his ideas. I am not quite sure which of his ideas you are currently studying (he had so many from the beginning of his career) however I also know that one of his most influential work is on language and pragmatism so that's where this solution will focus on. I am assuming that you would also be needing short answers to the attached questions. They are provided below after part I. I hope this solution helps. Please check your materials to make your final answers more course-specific.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Part 1: Essay on Richard Rorty

Richard Rorty, Pragmatism & Language Games

"Pragmatists hope to make it impossible for the sceptic to raise the question, 'Is our knowledge of things adequate to the way things really are?' They substitute for this question the practical question, 'Are our ways of describing things or of relating them to other things so as to make them fulfil our needs more adequately, as good as possible? Or can we do better?'"
- Richard Rorty, 1999, p.72.

For American Philosopher Richard Rorty, languages 'goes all the way down' (1982). The Social world being an open system - out there so to speak - separated from our inner world, the personal limited space in our mind and immediate surroundings, we need a device to make sense of it, to interrogate it, to understand it. How do we do this, how do we become a part of the social world and how do we take from it as much as we become a part of it? For Rorty, language, our ability to communicate to create, influence and make meaning is what allows this to happen. The thing is, for Rorty, language empowers but at the same time limits. This is because we cannot step outside language hence our limit is to describe the world, the things in it, according to its use to us - words, symbols - they carry constructed meaning. This view of Rorty's (Allen, 2003) is a pragmatic view of knowledge-claims. What are knowledge claims? Simply put, they are views and perspectives about the world that we claim and offer to be true, correct, universal and valid. From a pragmatic, and indeed, from a Rortian viewpoint, knowledge claims are limited in their validity in that they are only interpretations for the world 'out there' is only made sense within language. Things gain meaning in it, through discourse. When people talk, that is when things come to symbolize and refer to ideas and it only makes sense in that manner to those who share the discourse, who took part or are privy to said discourse. This is the led in which group culture stands on - shared and continued meaning making via group discourse. This is why corporate entities have their own corporate culture, have shared views and speak in a 'shared colloquial'. There is 'banking and finance language', 'ghetto language', 'basketball terminology', 'teen slang', etc. even if all said 'sets of slangs' fall under one language family (i.e. English). Meaning and understanding then, for Rorty is produced following the Foucouldian idea of meaning-creation. The only difference is that Rorty believes in finding out 'what suits best'. For Rorty, it is about finding the most acceptable, most efficient language sets towards creating or finding new leads and meanings in a research. Language in any academic or scholarly undertaking becomes the pillar in creating new meanings and perspectives and the philosopher or scholar, for Rorty must choose the 'right language' contemplatively.

Language Games

From the passage above, it is easy enough to see that Richard Rorty is against the traditional claims of epistemology (being that in traditional epistemology it appears that our claims against reality hold a huge degree legitimacy). The theories, philosophies, sciences and other such branches of knowledge that have surfaced since the Enlightenment are seen as fundamentals of progress. Indeed, science and the scientific way of thinking have allowed humanity to move forward. Many argue however that Rorty's ideas are also fundamental in a sense. Going against the universally accepted notion that anything scientific and proven is true, he cautions that it can only be true following certain contingencies, especially language. Vocabulary for Rorty is optional, mutable. For it is in the manner of choice of vocabulary and its use that new meanings arise. For Rorty, we can deconstruct meaning by 'deconstructing' the meaning making process itself. He sees knowledge creation as a kind of language games, the games being a tool/device that allows for meanings, referents, intentions and perspectives to come across allowing those in discourse to build knowledge of each other or of the topic in question to the point that one can claim that words, phrases or descriptions continue to operate under erasure. For this, we ought to look at semiology, a branch of linguistics study that is concerned with meaning making. IN semiotics, scholars are focused in the complex ways in which we create meanings about everything we encounter in our world. Can we argue that Rorty's pragmatism verges on semiology? Perhaps as it certainly seems to appear that way. But then again his interrogation of knowledge claims and their validity are rooted in his sociological experience and while it is true that he is concerned with semiotics his claims about language and knowledge creation in relation to epistemology cannot be discounted. Consider Wittgenstein's idea of 'language games' (1953). ...

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  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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