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By Richard M. Rorty

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Publish yr note: First released 1998. content material from The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures within the background of yank CiviUzation in 1997.

Must the sins of America's earlier poison its wish for the long run?

Lately the yankee Left, taking flight into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's disgrace, has replied definite in either notice and deed. In Achieving Our Country, one in all America's most popular philosophers demanding situations this misplaced iteration of the Left to appreciate the function it can play within the nice culture of democratic highbrow exertions that began with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

How have nationwide delight and American patriotism come to appear an endorsement of atrocities--from slavery to the slaughter of local americans, from the rape of historical forests to the Vietnam struggle? Achieving Our Country strains the assets of this debilitating mentality of disgrace within the Left, in addition to the damage it does to its proponents and to the rustic. on the middle of this historical past is the clash among the outdated Left and the hot that arose throughout the Vietnam battle period. Richard Rorty describes how the paradoxical victory of the antiwar circulation, ushering within the Nixon years, inspired a dissatisfied new release of intellectuals to pursue "High Theory" on the price of contemplating where of principles in our universal lifestyles. during this flip to idea, Rorty sees a retreat from the secularism and pragmatism championed by means of Dewey and Whitman, and he decries the tendency of the heirs of the recent Left to theorize concerning the usa from a distance rather than partaking within the civic paintings of shaping our nationwide future.

In the absence of a colourful, lively Left, the perspectives of intellectuals at the American correct have come to dominate the general public sphere. This galvanizing ebook, tailored from Rorty's Massey Lectures of 1997, takes step one towards redressing the imbalance in American cultural lifestyles by means of rallying these at the Left to the civic engagement and thought wanted for "achieving our country."

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Extra info for Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Sample text

But Dewey the fundamental moral fact. beings is that, to die rather than will differ from epoch some is oneself after committing these believe acts these are and from person to be unable to us moral we acts commit. Which to epoch, but to be a moral agent now him what makes for each of us, there are we ought But has a different conception of For to person, imagine Uving with acts. suppose that one has in done one of the fact things one could not have imagined doing, and finds that one is still alive.

Forgetting about eternity, and replacing knowledge of the antecedendy real with hope for the contingent future, is not both tasks have been a good deal easier since Hegel. Hegel was the first philosopher to take time and finitude as easy. But seriously as any Hobbesian materialist, while at the time taking the religious impulse as seriously as any prophet or Christian thesis saint. same Hebrew Spinoza had attempted such a syn- by identifying God with Nature, but Spinoza thought it still desirable to see things under the aspect of eternity.

Grand theories eschatologies like Hegel's or Marx's, inverted eschatologies Hke Heidegger's, and rationalizations of hopelessness hke Foucault's and Lacan's — satisfy the to satisfy. These are urges might cease to feel. urges that theology used which Dewey hoped Americans Dewey wanted Americans to share a civic religion that substituted Utopian striving for claims to theological In knowledge. the remaining lectures I shall Deweyan, pragmatic, participatory the Vietnam place. One consequence of that but had it existed prior to War and the spectatorial Left which has taken its tion of Americans achievable be contrasting the Left as — who that that shown disastrous war was a genera- suspected that our country was un- war not only could never be forgiven, us to be a nation conceived in sin, and irre- deemable.

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