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Rorty’s Aversion to Normative Violence: The Myth of the Given and the Death of God

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: Carl B. Sachs1
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Marymount University, 2807 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia, USA. 22207 csachs@marymount.edu
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Among the deeper strata of Rorty’s philosophy is what I call his aversion to normative violence. Normative violence occurs when some specific group presents itself as having a privileged relation to reality. The alternative to normative violence is recognizing that cultural politics has priority over ontology. I trace this Rortyan idea to its origins in Nietzsche and Sellars. Rorty’s contribution is to combine Nietzsche on the death of God and Sellars on the Myth of the Given. However, I conclude with a suggestion that Rorty ultimately goes too far in thinking that avoiding normative violence requires abstaining from metaphysics and epistemology as such.

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