I am, at this moment, experiencing a profound change in thought. Well, it is not so much profound, since my beliefs really aren’t being questioned, but I am experiencing thoughts and beliefs that are changing the way I view my life, my beliefs, and my reasons to exist.
The ultimate cause for this is unquestionably my reading of the book “Philosophy and Social Hope” by Richard Rorty. It is a collection of his writings as a pragmatist philosopher taken from various lectures, essays, articles, etc. that is divided into 5 sections: I Autobiographical; II Hope in Place of Knowledge A Version of Pragmatism; III Some Applications of Pragmatism; IV Politics; and V Contemparary America. I am currently on section III. I haven’t been affected by another author’s writings like this since I read a similar collection of another Philosopher’s writings; that Philosopher being Peter Singer, who is to a large extent the reason I am against, what I see as, the unnecessary suffering of animals (current practices used to raise and slaughter animals for food, for example).
What Rorty has to say about beliefs, and how that relates to science, religion, philosophy, politics, etc. is what is causing me to convulse with intellectual bliss. Specifically, I no longer believe that science is ‘discovering the objective truth of the universe’, but instead is the greatest practical tool we have to understand, predict, and control the universe we all inhabit.
When Rorty talks about education, he writes about how pre-university learning should focus on training and teaching students the beliefs that we currently hold to be true, and why we believe them. When students get to university, however, besides continuing this process of teaching them more and more, there should be the specific goal of getting them to question everything they’ve learned in the past. The purpose being that by questioning what we currently believe, it may be possible to come up with better ways for society to think/behave that would lead to, perhaps, greater democracy, justice, equality, happiness, etc.
I feel like Rorty is Nietzsche if Nietzsche was humanitarian.
Rorty also comments on religion. I feel like his discussion of religion helps me to make sense and respect the thoughts of Kierkegaard and Tillich.
Anyways, the thing that really strikes me about Rorty’s beliefs is how it always comes down to the betterment of humanity, and I find it to be absolutely stunning and deeply meaningful.