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|Title:||Bergsonian Metaphysical Undercurrents in Rorty's Liberal Gradualism|
|Keywords:||Henri Bergson;Richard Rorty;Charles Dickens;Vladamir Nabokov;Liberalism;The Open Society;Utopia|
|Abstract:||<p>The central thesis of <em>Bergsonian Metaphysical Undercurrents in Rorty’s Liberal Gradualism</em> is that those who take the greatest risks for social reformations are always motivated by the feeling of being part of something indefinitely greater than themselves and their own moral communities (however capacious these may be): progress just is this vague sense of indefinite movement, or becoming. In works such as <em>Matter and Memory, Creative Evolution,</em> and <em>The Two Sources of Morality and Religion</em>, Henri Bergson identified this sense of movement with time, the evolution of life, and the emotion of love respectively. Though he would probably laud Bergson’s insistence that philosophy should be partisan, Richard Rorty would be less hasty in making Bergson’s identifications, for Rorty thinks social progress is best served by gradual increases in our local sense of “us” effected by imaginary identification with others through literary exposures, not a mystical sense of oneness with all creation. Improvising on a Bergsonian note, I hold that one must already be an aspiring mystic, or moral hero, for one to get an expanded sense of “us” from reading literature. But such a lifestyle is incredibly difficult to maintain, requiring superhuman courage and moral reflection. It is only in the inspiring, active presence of a genuine moral hero that a readership will be able to make such efforts, and reliably take to literature the way Rorty would like in order to form his goal of a maximally capacious liberal utopia. Mystics act out of the metaphysical or religious conviction, whether real or imagined, that they are instruments of a great force of love. Rorty’s own utopian project would then be dependent on (and, perhaps, even an unknowing product of) these spiritual, metaphysical undercurrents of social progress.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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