Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Habermas, Jurgen. ". . . The Philosopher and the Language Shaper: In Memory of Richard Rorty." TELOS November 2, 3 and 5, 2007.
Dear Mary, dear Friends and Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, Given the highly personal occasion that brings us together here today, please allow me to start with a private memory. I first met Richard Rorty in 1974 at a conference on Heidegger in San Diego. At the beginning of the convention, a video was screened of an interview with the absent Herbert Marcuse, who in it described his relationship to Heidegger in the early 1930s more mildly than the sharp post-War correspondence between the two men would have suggested. Much to my annoyance, this set the tone for the entire conference, where an unpolitical veneration of Heidegger prevailed. Only Marjorie Green, who had likewise studied in Freiburg prior to 1933, passed critical comment, saying that back then at best the closer circle of Heidegger students, and Marcuse belonged to it, could have been deceived as to the real political outlook of their mentor. In this ambivalent mood I then heard a professor from Princeton, known to me until then only as the editor of a famed collection of essays on The Linguistic Turn, put forward a provocative comparison. He tried to strike harmony between the dissonant voices of three world-famous soloists in the frame of a strange concert: Dewey, the radical democrat and the most political of the pragmatists, performed in this orchestra alongside Heidegger, that embodiment of the arrogant German mandarin par excellence. And the third in this unlikely league was Wittgenstein, whose Philosophical Investigations had taught me so much; but he, too, was not completely free of the prejudices of the German ideology, with its fetishization of spirit, and cut a strange figure as a comrade of Dewey The rest may be found here (and Part 2 and Part 3).