Philosophy has nothing to say about death. Only poetry. I wish I had memorized more poetry.
— Richard Rorty, the secular humanist philosopher as quoted in The Huffington Post
More information about text formats
I wish someone would publish a list containing all the poetry Rorty said was "about death". For the life of me I can't think of any except:
For a poem that says everything about life read: http://www.thelastwhy.ca/poem/
Trent, since it isn't literally true that philosophy has nothing to say about death (and Rorty would have known this better than most), I would be interested in how you read this quote from Rorty.knowing his work and life circumstances it would probably have been more accurate for him to have said that philosophy has nothing to say to death.
I hear what you're saying. I would imagine that Rorty's concern wasn't with technicalities at that point. It seems to me that as a learned, wise man faced his own mortality it was the lyrical nature of language and ideas that brought comfort that wasn't cerebral but human. Beauty personified. And you?
I wouldn't limit it to beauty, but yes I would think that the kind of heightened experience of some aspect of life that can come with reading good poetry would be a likely candidate, much like Rorty's love of birds.One of the shortcomings of Rorty's analytic sense of philosophy was that he thought that it was more concerned with justifications than with highlighting aspects of experience.
I'll admit that I wasn't aware of Richard Rorty before our interview with Paul Raushenbush, so I can offer no analysis of his work. What I heard in the quote from Mr. Raushenbush's HuffPo piece was a man that found a life of the mind taking root in different sources. Is there a particular paper or book of Rorty's that you might recommend reading first?
He was one of the more important thinkers of our times, it would depend on how much, if any, philosophy one has studied but his book written for a general audience is Achieving Our Country and a pretty readable philosophy text is Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.