Preface; Introduction; Part I. Contingency: 1. The contingency of language; 2. The contingency of selfhood; 3. The contingency of a liberal community; Part II. Ironism and Theory: 4. Private irony and liberal hope; 5. Self-creation and affiliation: Proust, Nietzsche, and Heidegger; 6. From ironist theory to private allusions: Derrida; Part III. Cruelty and Solidarity: 7. The barber of Kasbeam: Nabokov on cruelty; 8. The last intellectual in Europe: Orwell on cruelty; 9. Solidarity; Index of names.
In this 1989 book, Rorty examines human solidarity and liberalism through literature, philosophy, social theory and literary criticism.
Rorty propounds, and faces squarely the consequences of, a relativistic, non-essentialist view of man and society. For him, attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices are contingent phenomena of a particular time, place, and culture, none of which is inherently better or worse than any other. There is irony in the fact that one can realize this, yet still desire, and work for, ``human solidarity'' and freedom. How these positions can be reconciled is the subject of this important book, not incidental to which are fascinating discussions of Hegel, Heidegger, Habermas, Nietzsche, Nabokov, Freud, Dickens, and Orwell, among others. This is Rorty at his most stimulating, and he emerges as a major political theorist.-- Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.
"...bristles with big and unsettling ideas...No brief summary of this book can begin to convey its freshness, scope, and immense erudition...Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity will induce intellectual tingles in the philosopher and layman alike. It is going to be read for a long time." The Philadelphia Inquirer "This is Rorty at his most stimulating, and he emerges as a major political theorist." Library Journal "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity is not only readable, informative and ceaselessly interesting; it is a bold and topical manifest about the entire philosophical and political prospect of our 'post-modern' times. Jonathan Re'e Radical Philosophy "...consistently provocative, and every page excites philosophic thought." Philosophy and Literature "An exciting book. For millennia philosophers have been debating whether the universe is out there to be discovered or is rather in effect invented by thinkers who can never get beyond their own categories. Rorty is our most prominent perspectivist today...Rorty writes with erudition and style. His views are always stimulating, though they will inevitably tend to infuriate readers who are not ready for a 'postmetaphysical' world." H. L. Shapiro, Choice