Richard Rorty, 1931-2007

richard-rorty.jpgTelos reports the death of Richard Rorty last Friday. I got engaged with Rorty’s ideas when I was the philosophy editor at and reviewed books like Achieving Our Country; I still consider his pragmatism a strong influence on my way of thinking a decade later. Todd Gitlin remembers Rorty as a philosopher who “put his fingers squarely on the central thought dilemmas (or multilemmas) of our time” and “didn’t use philosophy as a dodge from politics—sensible liberal social-democratic politics at that.”

The photo above comes from a Stanford News article about a 2005 lecture where Rorty slammed mind/body dualism, asking, “Why did this bad idea enter our culture?”

10 June 2007 | obituaries |

James Brown, 1933-2006

funky-christmas.jpgIt’s worth taking a moment to break from our largely literary focus today, I think. Christmas just isn’t the same without James Brown—oh, I’ve still got my recordings of “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” and the incomparable “Hey America (It’s Christmas Time),” but knowing that he won’t be singing them live for some audience somewhere…and that’s before we even begin to get into the rest of what made the Godfather of Soul an icon of what 20th-century America was all about.

25 December 2006 | obituaries |

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