Rorty on religion and hope

Nicholas H. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The article considers how Richard Rorty's writings on religion dovetail with his views on the philosophical significance of hope. It begins with a reconstruction of the central features of Rorty's philosophy of religion, including its critique of theism and its attempt to rehabilitate religion within a pragmatist philosophical framework. It then presents some criticisms of Rorty's proposal. It is argued first that Rorty's "redescription" of the fulfilment of the religious impulse is so radical that it is hard to see what remains of its specifically religious content. This casts doubt on Rorty's claim to have made pragmatism and religion compatible. The article then offers an analysis of Rorty's key notion of "unjustifiable hope". Different senses of unjustifiable hope are distinguished, in the course of which a tension between the "romantic" and "utilitarian" aspects of Rorty's pragmatist philosophy of religion comes into view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-98
Number of pages23
JournalInquiry
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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