Richard McKay Rorty: Contingency, Irony and SolidarityJune 27, 2021
According to Rorty, individuals can be freed from metaphysical-absolute truths and oppressive value judgments only by becoming conscious of their contingencies.
In this context, Rorty stands in the trend of historicism. Historicism looks at processes in the context of historical-social development. On the other hand, there is an orientation that relativizes the Truth. Truth can only be possible with communication between free individuals in society, and this is something that only individuals who are conscious of their contingencies can do.
The concept of irony, on the other hand, shows the way towards the perfection of the individual. The ironic individual, however, is an individual who can distance himself from his own mind and see others as individuals with a mind, and who does not lose his critical distance towards himself. Being aware of his contingency, the ironic individual is one who does not have the delusion that his own philosophy is superior to others, is aware of other thoughts and ideas around him and is open to redefining his own reality.
The concept of solidarity is a concept suggested by Rorty for the public sphere. While his liberalism demands the individual perfection of the individual in the private sphere, it also demands a common sense of solidarity in the social sphere. Accordingly, justice and trust will be ensured through equality of rights in education, health and similar social issues, thus paving the way for active participation in politics. Solidarity in the public sphere, irony in the private sphere. Thus, Rorty tries to balance both. Social solidarity is not an effort to discover a metaphysical human essence, but the ability to understand other people’s pain and suffering, to empathize with them, and to see them as one’s own with their differences and contingencies. Thus, it will only be possible to empower individuals who are conscious of their contingencies and to create a sociality in solidarity.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook