Rethinking nihilism: Rorty vs Taylor, Dreyfus and Kelly

Tracy Llanera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The idea of nihilism continues to figure prominently in philosophical debates about the problems of modernity. The aim of this article is to consider how Richard Rorty’s work might advance these debates. The article begins with a discussion of the problem of nihilism as it appears in the recent exchange between Charles Taylor, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly. It then brings Rorty into the conversation by considering his reflections on egotism and his proposed antidote to it: selfenlargement. I propose that self-creation and solidarity, two key ideas of Rorty’s earlier work, should be understood as redemptive paths to self-enlargement. With this interpretation in place, Rorty can be seen as offering an alternative perspective on the problem of nihilism, one that compares favourably with those put forward by Taylor, Dreyfus and Kelly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-950
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Hubert Dreyfus
  • modernity
  • nihilism
  • Richard Rorty
  • Charles Taylor


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