Double Visions: Autobiography and the Ends of Philosophy

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In Contingency, irony and solidarity Rorty attempts to solve what Robert Pippin calls the ‘Modernity Problem’ by outlining a new self-understanding for the intellectuals of the ideal liberal society. The so-called liberal ironists of this post-philosophical milieu are no longer characterized by the quest for what Rorty describes as ‘a single vision’. This paper evaluates Rorty’s attempt to conceptualize the self-image of post-philosophical intellectuals in the light of two similar endeavors; namely, Nietzsche’s and the ancient Sceptics’. The preliminary conclusion is that although Rorty’s attempt fails, it points to an alternative way of interpreting the desire for a single vision; namely, as a form of autobiography. Drawing on Nietzsche, Nagel and Mill, the paper proceeds to argue that Rorty’s own autobiographical fragment exemplifies the way in which the narration of a failed attempt to find a ‘single vision’ can itself be seen as the achievement of such a vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-403
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2013


  • liberal ironist
  • autobiography
  • ancient scepticism
  • Nietzsche
  • modernity problem
  • intellectual self-understanding
  • Mill
  • Nagel

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