Yup, him and Baudrillard within a year of each other. The Americans and the French have both lost fairly significant thinkers.
Ever since Rawls went, American philosophers have been dying off fast, real fast.
That's awful. He was SO GREAT. How I regret being lost in grief and alcohol when he was teaching at UVa to the point that I didn't even know his work or try to get into one of his classes. Barack Obama is echoing Rorty whether he knows it or not.
As a grad student, I set up a lecture for Rorty on behalf of Edward Said (another loss) back in 1994 or 1995. There was an audience of maybe 30 people, half grad students, half professors, and Rorty went on and on in the most delightful way about that timeless Stein line "a rose is a rose is a rose." It was wonderful.
I'm pretty sure Rorty said novelists, not philosophers, are best suited to answer the big questions. What a wonderful approach. I'm very sad to see him go. He made college sort of interesting.
This is weeks-old news, but I love that Slog contributors post stuff (read: pomo/crit theory) like this. Slate.com had an interesting retrospective from friends of Rorty: http://www.slate.com/id/2168488/
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