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Postmodern Philosophy and The Hermeneutic Conversation

QUESTION: Postmodern Philosophy – The Hermeneutic Conversation


Richard Rorty also thinks we need to abandon the search for objective truth and instead concentrate on areas where we can all agree. He refers to this quest as “hermeneutic conversation.” Rorty invites his opponents to dialogue with him to see if they can reach agreement, or at least a fruitful disagreement. He says that the “hope of agreement is never lost as long as the conversation lasts.”1

Postmodern Philosophy – Richard Rorty and His Conversations
But does truth result from such a conversation? Not really. Rorty’s insistence on give and take and final agreement only sets the stage for another round of conversations where give and take results in further agreement or disagreement. Truth is never the result of continuing conversation, because the conversation will never be finished.2

For Rorty, this use of language and dialogue is “edifying philosophy”—a chance to create some type of reality with the realization that we can never discover true or objective reality outside the boundaries of language, culture, and locality. Since there is no objective, universal Truth, Rorty suggests that perhaps we can reach some type of agreeable truth (small “t”) in order to get along with others.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 318.

2 This is reminiscent of the Marxist dialectic (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) in which the synthesis of agreement becomes a new thesis, disagreement is the antithesis, and the process is never-ending.

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