Pragmatism and Liberalism between Dewey and Rorty Author(s): Richard Shusterman Source: Political Theory, Vol. 22, No.

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PRAGMATISM AND LIBERALISM BETWEEN DEWEY AND RORTY

RICHARD SHUSTERMAN TempleUniversity

T HROUGHOUTTHE REAGANITEeighties and into the post-Soviet nineties, RichardRortyhas been using pragmatismto praise and defend the virtues of contemporaryAmerican democracy and to advocate a political philosophy which he has dubbed "postmodernbourgeois liberalism."'At source and appealsto every turn,he invokes JohnDewey as its inspirational for itsjustification.Indeed,he explicitly affirmsthathis Deweyan arguments liberalismis fully "continuouswith Dewey's," locating his differenceswith Dewey primarily in "the account of the relation of naturalscience to the rest of culture, and in stating the problem of representationalism vs. thanin terms in anti-representatiopalism termsof wordsandsentencesrather of ideas andexperences" (ORT,16). More bluntlyput, Rortyrejectswhathe science over literaryculture, sees as Dewey's privilegingof natural just as he refuses to countenancephilosophicaldiscoursethattraffics,as Dewey's does, with nonlinguisticentitles like experiencesor ideas. Apartfrom such differences, Rorty claims to be advocatingthe same sort of "democratic, progressive, pluralistcommunity. of which Dewey dreamt"(ORT, 13). Rorty's liberalism,with its celebrationof Americanbourgeoisdemocracy of and its critiqueof the useless "subversion" the radicalintellectualLeft, has offended Marxistandpost-Marxist radicalsall over the world.But it has also shocked many AmericanDeweyan liberals.Long-termfriendsand pragmatist fellow travelerslike RichardBernstein are dismayed at how Dewey's
AUTHOR'SNOTE: Thefirst version of this article was presentedat the Universityof Chile in December 1992. I am grateful to Carlos Ruiz-Schneider to Jacques Poulain of the College and International Philosophieforarrangingthe invitation.Ialso wish to thankChuck de Dyke,James Miller, Seyla Benhabib, TracyStrong,and an anonymousreviewerfor helpful suggestions on subsequentdrafts. Vol. 1994 391-413 POLITICAL THEORY, 22 No.3, August ? 1994SagePublications, Inc. 391

Bernsteininvokes tinkering" Liberalismand Social Action(originallypublishedin 1935).Finally. I will probe some of the deeper philosophicalroots of those differences in such issues as the natureof liberty. For the gulf betweenwhatthe actualsituationmakespossible andthe actualstate itself is so great that it cannotbe bridgedby piecemeal policies undertaken ad hoc.16).' "2OpposingRorty'scomplacentview thatbourgeoisliberalismrequiresonly small-scale. Such historicalpurismis false to the forward-looking spiritof The aim is rather understand to why Dewey's radicalliberalism pragmatism. In this essay I wantto compareRortianand Deweyan liberalism.but serve only to flattertheirown self-image as avant-garde revolutionaries whose special.when theirglobal theoriesof radicalreformhave no touch with concretepoliticalrealitiesand practicalproposals.392 POLITICAL THEORY August 1994 / radicaland clearly anticapitalist liberalismis being distortedandassimilated into "anapologia for the statusquo-the very type of liberalismthatDewey and judged to be 'irrelevant doomed.keepingthe Deweyan dehope for philosophicallyinspiredsocial reformand more participatory Rortiansense of the limits and abusesof philosophy mocracyalong with the in treating our currentsocial predicament. He scorns the way radicalintellectualsportray themselvesas socially concernedchampions of the oppressed. some minor"Dewey-stylereformist (ORT."given the fact that to todaythereareno realalternatives capitalisteconomies (SH.including our "private"social predicamentas intellectuals."3 Rorty responds by dismissing such contemporaryattemptsto maintain Deweyan radicalismas empty "exercises in nostalgia. . esoteric knowledge could save the world. and the relation of means to ends.the valueof aestheticunity. In sketching the similaritiesand differences between Deweyan and Rortlanliberalism.My aim is not to gradeRorty'sfidelity andpolice the purityof Dewey scholarshipfor its own sake.contingency.piecemealimprovement. which Dewey's ardently insists that "Liberalismmust now become radical. 22). meaning by 'radical'perceptionof the necessity of thoroughgoingchanges in the set-up of institutionsand corresponding activity to bring the changes to pass. has evolved into Rorty'sconservativlsmand to see whetherwe can arriveat liberalismby playingtheirviews off againsteach a moreadequatepragmatist other. But because pragmatismis historicistand recognizesthatphilosophicaldifferencesareoften the product of social change. and justification. I will suggest how we liberal pragmatists might go beyond the Dewey-Rortystandoffby splittingtheirdifferences. I will also explore to what extent the differencesbetween Rorty and Dewey may be understoodin terms of the differentworlds they inhabit.thesocial construction philosophical of the self.

Rorty thus praises Dewey for antlessentialistphilosophers making liberalismlook good to contemporary without"philosophicalbackup.was to groundhumanfreedom ontologically throughsome doctrine of naturalrights.or nature-givengift of reason.Dewey refusedto groundliberalismin such a metaphysicaldoctrine of inalienable rights and necessary human essences. There would thus be nothing to do but to leave it and individuals alone. As pragmatist. For Rorty.It was aimed at making liberalismsafe for the masses by curbingits rapaciousindividualism.becausethereare no ontologicallyfixed essences or inalienable truthsto appeal to as philosophical foundations. 211).If individuallibertyrestedon ontological and inalienablegivens of human nature. Rorty. change.because it is built into the very natureof things as partof the rationalessence of human nature. not as a concrete good that depended on contingent societies and requiredtheirimprovement.For Dewey.and any attemptto provide one will only serve to discredit the relevant practice by calling attention to the fact that it is weak enough to require false philosophical support. insisting Insteadon the plasticity. the worst thing to do would be to impose externalconstraintson it.AND LIBERALISM Shusterman PRAGMATISM / 393 AND JUSTIFICATION FOUNDATIONS Dewey and Rorty sharethe aim of freeing liberalismfrom its traditional philosophical foundationsin enlightenmentmetaphysics. and contingency of our universe.he rejected metaphysics'fixed world of essences.and its achievementis "conditionedby the institu- .The standardliberal strategy.there is no place for philosophicaljustificationof politics or of any practice. Libertyhere is identifiedas negative liberty.establishedby Locke and Kant. Dewey the idea of natural rights because it saw liberty as an abstract rejected metaphysical given. Individuallibertyis thus guaranteed as what people should have and what societies must protect.that would imply that it is always alreadypresentin us. ultimatelyderivable from our God.is wrongin thinkingthatDewey's attackon the metaphysics of traditionalliberalismwas primarilyaimed at making liberalismsafe for philosophers.and liberalism is equated with a laissez-faire that refuses to constrainthe freedomof the few to take advantageof the many. "freedom is something to be achieved" rather than "something that individuals have as a ready-madepossession". which requiresfreedom to realize itself in rationalchoice and action.denying the to manya positive sense of freedomas empowerment leada betterlife."by by giving it "philosophicalarticulation" "debunkingthe very idea of 'humannature'and of 'philosophicalfoundations' " thatpoliticaltheorieslike liberalismwere supposedto require(ORT.however.as freedom from interference.

"Rorty sharplydichotomlzes the universe of justificatorydiscourse into "real" technicallyargueddeducjustification(hard-edged.He elaboratedthis in termsof basic humandesires for consummatoryexperience. Rortyignoresthis motive in Dewey's rejectionof liberalism'sphilosophical foundationsbecausehe simply does not shareit. He insists insteadon the critics and value of negative liberty. Revealing what Bernsteinrightly diagnoses as a residual"posltivlst strain.Rorty'sphilosophicalinstitution.45). mocracyfrom necessaryessences. a contrast that lurks behind many of the liberalisms. dichotomy One answermay be the extremeprofessionalismof Rorty'sphilosophical world in contrast to Dewey's. as we shall see. he did worryaboutwhether"nature as thatis uncoveredandunderstood ourbestcontemporaneous knowledge. philosophical unassailablefirst princlples)and mere rhetoricalurgingthrough tions from polemics and story-telling. But it is harderto understand while rejectingpositivism.self-realization.Given this cripplingdichotomy. differencesin theirpragmatist underthe aegis of positivismandincreasinglyisolatedfrom professionalized ." Hence "organized society must use its powersto establishthe conditionsunderwhichthe mass of individuals can possess actualas distinctfrom merely legal liberty"(LSA. by [could] sustainandsupportourdemocratichopes."giving thema convincing "intellectualwarrant.394 POLITICAL THEORY August 1994 / tional mediumin which an individuallives.4Although he repudiatedany transcendental itself.it is easy to evidence see why Rorty reads Dewey as offering a story ratherthan philosophical why Rorty maintainsthis positivist backup. can be takenfor such perfection" a critic and ideologue.6While historicism and contingency make the formervulnerableand question-begging.and in termsof effortto achieve greaterfrequencyandsecurityfor the need for collaborative these desiredends in a changingcontingentworld whose futurecan in some measure be influenced and improved by human action and experimental deduction of deintelligence.the latteris simply not philosophy the andso cannotcarrythe claim to establishwhatit urgesthrough supporting of philosophicaltruth. To returnto the issue of justification: Rorty also ignores the fact that Dewey's rejectionof the old metaphysicalfoundationsof liberalismis not a justificationtoutcourt.ForDewey himself worked rejectionof philosophical hardto providehis vision of liberaldemocracywith a convincingphilosophical backup.andcommunity.growth.defendingit againstits communitarian other ideologues who would subordinateit to "telic conceptionsof human (CIS. space.21). Dewey himself."5 justificaoption of philosophical Rorty'sneglect of this nonfoundational to deny suchjustificationany logical becausehe wants tion is not surprising.

but can only "bemeasuredin termsof the intrinsiclife andgrowthof each individual" (E. 194)."democracymeans thatpersonality is the first and final reality.AND LIBERALISM Shusterman PRAGMATISM / 395 the mainstreamof Americanculturallife.on its quest for certain knowledge that is part of its logic of legitimation throughassimilation to science. While society cannot establishes the environingconditionsfor its realization. however degraded and feeble. could hardlycount as professionalphilosophical proof. This different valorization of positive and negative liberty underliesthe most salientdifferencesbetweenDewey's andRorty'sversions of liberalism.For him."and its satisfaction through self-fulfillment should be the aim of the society as well as the individual. individualityis free in the positive sense of the word. the prime value of liberalism is its privileglng of negative liberty over any positive conception of self-realizationor empowerment..andif notprofessionalphilosophy.arguments that were moreover articulatedin nontechnicallanguage and clearly motivatedby political ideals. 346).AlthoughDewey differsfrom Rortyin affirmingthe necessity of he active communallife for self-realization. instead urges the ideal "of Tolerance .its "abilityto leave people alone.they weresimply notphilosophy at all. but only ideological polemics and culturecriticism. AND SELF-REALIZATION FREEDOM Both Deweyan and Rortianliberalismprivilege notjust the individualbut what we might call one's individuality one's particularfreedom and selfrealization. It explains why Dewey will risk radicalreformof the politico-economic system so thatthe mass of individualswill have adequateconditions(i."personality be procuredfor any one. the positive freedom) to realize themselves. For Dewey no less thanRorty. prides itself on the technicalrigor and logical precision of its deductive arguments.and "only .afraidto damage the negative liberties that already exist. by any one else. stressesthatthe democraticideal of equality is not a leveling uniformityof societal functionor status."7 Dewey goes on to urge thata liberaldemocracymust strive to insurethat its membersachieve this positive freedomof empowerment.Rortydemurs.e. while Rorty. By such scientisticprofessionaliststandards. justificatoryarguments in the murky (and dangerouslypractical)domain of political theory. the man who is realizing his however wise and strong". to let them try out theirprivatevisions of perfectionin peace" (ORT. fearing that any public preoccupationwith how individuals realize themselves will painfully intrudeon theirpersonalnegative liberty.

they are free to theorize. Dewey andRortyagreethatself-realizationis the highestvalue for liberal democracy and that such self-fulfillment is distinctively individual and aesthetic. while Dewey defines it positively in termsof the protection" creationof a real communitydevoted to the positivejoys of self-fulfillment in associatedliving and committedto collective action so thateach member to can realize herself while (andthrough)contributing the common good.. It is rathera particularized . He sees "the aim of a just and free society as letting its citizens be and as prlvatistlc.e. are more than a mere function of personal preference. Philosophersin America no longer play the prominentpublic role that Dewey did. whereas Rorty's resolutely refuses to. whatever(and however meager) they be. Finally. Rortymore modestly and negativelywants to leave individualsto their own devices."and for sees its society as "a bandof eccentricscollaborating purposesof mutual (CIS. Viewed in this way.Realizing oneself is not a matterof fulfilling any fixed general moralor social essence of humanor citizen. Rortyseems not so false to Dewey as he is trueto his own social reality.'irratlonalist.213).In Dewey's time. people still believed thatradicalreconstructionof society was possible and that philosopherscould play a major role in mapping it out."and as trying"toequalize for opportunities self-creationand then leave people alone to use or neglect their opportunities"(CIS.They reflect the historicallydifferent societies that Rorty and Dewey respectively inhabitand the role these societies accord the professional philosopher. 85). 59. 349). conformingto a predetermined creative formula legislated by natureor society. If Dewey's utopia alms "to harmonizethe developmentof each individual with the maintenanceof a to social statein which the activitiesof one will contribute the good of all the to others"so thatvery differentindividualself-fulfillmentscan contribute "a fund of sharedvalues"(E.it explainswhy Dewey's liberalismseeks to bridgethe privateand public. Dewey would respond that for such rather to opportunities reallybe equal(i. It explains why Rortydefines liberalism'sideal negatively as the "desireto avoid cruelty and pain. This faith is almost totally eroded. but foolish if they think they can positively implement their theories in concrete political action. xiv. it is naturalto privilege negative and privateliberty because it seems to be the only liberty we still have to exercise. Although they differ on the valency of the individual freedom they privilege.' aestheticistas they please so long as they do it on theirown time-causing no harmto others. The of structure society (includingthatof theirown profession)does notempower them to do so. I believe.8 In such conditions. Such differences.396 POLITICAL THEORY August 1994 / rather thanthatof Emancipation" (ORT. equalityof positiveempowerment thanof freedomfrom interference) society cannotsimply leave people alone to neglect them but must createthe conditionsthatassuretheiruse. 65).

talents.Rorty'sadvocacyof "theaestheticlife" of constant"self-enlargement. .31. Hence "any liberalismthat takes its profession of the importanceof the individualitywith sinceritymustbe deeply concernedaboutthe structure of human association. distinctive selfhood.The individualcan fully realize her freedom. is the complete culminationof nature. especially on liberalism'sneed for participatorydemocracy and the division between the public and private in sphere.more attractiveperson who will enjoy more satisfying and rewardingexperiences with greaterfrequencyand stability.41)." "self-creation" seem the more outspoken(EHO. distinctive selfrealization. 158. are simply means (though valued means) for the satisfying consummatory phases of experience that Dewey identified with aesthetic experience and prized as thejoy thatmakes life worthliving.the mode of activity that is charged with meanings capable of immediately enjoyed possession.she musttakean active interestin the managingof hercommunity and in the common good of her fellow citizens who interactwith and impact on her."and the canny liberalconcerned with her own selfrealizationshould recognizethatits success andrichnessdependsalso on that of others (LSA.For Dewey.learningand modificationof character"(E.and opportuare.and that science is properlya handmaidenthat conducts naturalevents to this happy issue" because (EN." be achieved throughcontinuous"growth. 302. He thus affirmedthat"art. Self-governmentis thus essential to self-realization. The primacy of aesthetic self-realization is sometimes occluded by Dewey's valorizationof science andpoliticalconcerns. But individuality"may Dewey wasjust as ardentlyexplicit on these aestheticthemes. 424). just as he claimedthat"artis moremoralthanmoralities" its imaginationdiscoversandrealizesnew goods andideals rather thantrying to enforce outwornconventionalones (AE." and aimed at realizing one's "distinctive "self-enrichment.they differ as to how this ideal is embodied. a Nietzschean projectof becoming what you conditions. E.He recognized "self-realizationas the ethical ideal" and insisted that it "demandsthe full whichcan only developmentof individualsin theirdistinctiveindividuality. 305. for Dewey. althoughboth advocate the ideal of aesthetic. and talents only in "fixing the social conditions of their exercise. CIS. 302). Since the individual is always affected by her environing conditions. by using one's particular nities to mold oneself into a richer." only in "directand active participation the in regulationof the termsupon which associatedlife shall be sustainedand the pursuitof the good carriedon" (E.9 However. 154. 290). Inclinations. self-realization requiresactive participation the public sphere and in the business of government.But these. 349). 348).Shusterman PRAGMATISM / AND LIBERALISM 397 project of individualgrowth. and this results in their strikinglydifferentpolitical views.

he could not only speak of "the intrinsic nature of man" (E.not an intrinsic. since every self not only thingas a fixed. "the contingency of selfhood" becomes still more radical. ready-made.not the necessaryexpressionof an ontologicallypredetermined and universallysharedhumanessence. AND UNITY CONTINGENCY Dewey and Rorty both view the self as an individual. but also on the contingenciesof theconsequencesof actionthatinfluencefuturechoices.politicalfunctioningof liberaldemocracy is merely an externalprotectiveframework-although the best we knowfor individualself-creation. 306). For Dewey. but is largely the productof its acts and choices. ahistoSince there is no ahlstorcal essence of humannatureor "permanent rlcalcontextof humanlife" which dictateswhatthe self mustbe. which limit the range of choices.398 THEORY August 1994 POLITICAL / Dewey thusaimsatharmonizing Rorty libertyandequalitywithfraternity. in the form of powerfully effective biological and social norms) and contingent necessities-regularities or needs that are virtually necessary given the contingentevolution and currentstructuresof human biology and history. and changingcreation. 155.Drawing a "firmdistinctionbetween the privateandthe public"(CIS." dence"(CIS. He instead recognizedhlstoricized essences (e. Such choices depend not only on the changing contingencies of its environment (natural and social). and visionsof liberalism self-realization We can betterassessthesedifferent by examining how they reflect more basic and subtle differencesregarding the natureof the self. 26.however.13). a question of "what should I do with my aloneness?"(ORT.Thepublic. 157). 308) based on current knowledge of .'?Dewey ontological necessities based on metaphysicalessences to affirming that selfhood is a randommatterof chance. Rorty's argumentconflates contingency as what is "not logically or ontologically necessary"with contingencyas what is "entirelyrandomand that we have eitherabsolute it idiosyncratic". its social construction."a "random. insteadseeks "to dissociatelibertyand equalityfrom fraternity" (ORT. 83). EHO.. in contrastto Rorty.211) and self-realizationfrom self-government.and the aesthetic that should guide its reconstruction. reflects the false presumption refusedto make this leap from denying necessity or randomchaos. 37.contingent. For Rorty. produces actions.formativeelement of it. a mere contingency. Rortyinsists thatself-realization is an essentially private affair.g. it is entirely "accidentalcoinci"a matterof chance.Thus. "thereis no such finishedself" (E.

insteadderive theirpower fromconformingwith ourpreferred with the ideals and institutions we find most attractive(ORT." and what we take as the single self is in fact a composite of conflicting"quasi with incompatiblebeliefs and desires" selves. While both . of 577-8). Rorty's program of refuses to let self-coherence and "radicalchange" for "self-enlargement" unity constrain "the desire to embrace more and more possibilities" by constantlyredefiningthe self in termsof new. because it never had any. "ourpersonalidentityis found in the threadof continuousdevelopment which binds together these changes" (E.For our very sense of self. We should not worry about the self's losing its unity.In advocatinggrowth as the highest moral and ideal. Since Rorty'sfragmentation the self is based on a Davidsonianreading of of Freudll and resonates well with postmodernlsm'sdeconstructionof the subject. hungrilyenjoying as many new commodities as it can. TT. 308) aimingat continual growth.He even maintainsthat such theories of self ethicalviews." "a pluralityof persons (EHO.13 To sum up. 162). but could arguefrom this hlstornczednature to justify the kind of life and governmentthat would be most conducive to humanflourishing. 192-3. 147. We are "randomassemblages of contingent and idiosyncraticneeds. information-far more than can be digested and brought together in a coherentwhole. often conflicting vocabularies. but lacking the firm integrityto challenge eitherits habits of consumptionor the system thatmanipulatesand profits from them. Where. Dewey recommendschangeso as to "fightagainstinduration fixity.one might arguethathis liberalismis sounderthanDewey's because it rests on a more sophisticatedandpsychologicallyupdatedview of the self.confused self. bits of of sumption." But he also through"sincere.enduringinterurges that the self's changes be structured ests" and held togetherthroughsome unifying strand. 302.while both affirma "moving. Dewey insists far more than Rorty on the unity and coherence of self-development.dynamicself" (E.images. 306).then. Moreover.i2 Rorty's view of the self as a randomcomposite of incompatiblequasi selves constantlyseeking new possibilities and multiplechanging vocabularies seems indeed the ideal self for postmodern consumer society. But Rorty himself repudiatesthe very idea of basing ethics on some underlying theory of human nature. multitrack the ingestion of an overabundance commodities.is the attraction self-enlargingself-realizationwithout a self unified enough to hold it all together? It admirably conforms to concontemporarysociety's (well-advertised)ideal of maximal. Rorty's radicalizationof contingency engenders a far more narrowly individualistic idea of self-realizationthan Dewey's. and therebyrealize the possibilities of recreationof our selves. a fragmented./ AND LIBERALISM Shusterman PRAGMATISM 399 biological and social sciences.

since its fairly stable contingencies are far more formative of self than the random vagaries of chancethatRortyemphasizes.thoughts.the patternof their desires and purposes"(I. For in order to create ourselves.Rortyaloneconcludesthatself-realization must thereforelie in maximizingone's distinctiveidiosyncrasyby highlightingthe particular contingentdifferencesthatdistinguishus from othermembersof our community and by confining our efforts of self-creationto the private sphere. to the question of "whatto do with our aloneness"(CIS. then improvingour society seems essentialto improvingthe qualityof the selves we realize.society will always be the center precedes and shapes its constitution. a community. an individualcan only fully realize herself by going outside herself and takingan active partin associatedlife. But in doing so. 81) depend largely on the habits. 13).indeedthey significantlylimit the rangeof the latter. both needing and enjoying social life. xiv). in Dewey thereforeconcludes: "Only by participating the common intelliand sharingin the commonpurposeas It worksfor the common good gence can individual human beings realize their true individualitiesand become trulyfree"(LSA.to achieve the end of self-realization. Working on oneself by oneself for one's self-distinction is Rorty's answer to this question.20)."14 This social constructionof the self is central to Dewey's argumentthat personal self-realizationdemandsan active public life: If "the mental and moral structureof individuals. AND PHILOSOPHY SOCIETY Although Dewey gives teleologlcal privilege to the individual. Moreover. we need to work with others on our environingsociety. instead.ahistorc human essence (since thereis none). 24-5.400 POLITICAL THEORY/ August 1994 deny that self-realizationcan be conformityto a universal."Individuals and consummationof experience.as humansare intrinsicallysocial animals. This argumentto fuse "self-creationand justice.but what the individualactually is in his life experience depends on the natureand movement of associated life. would urge us to find a friend.and values that society encourages. TT. What Rorty denies is that the project of personalself- . Dewey.should workto assure the sort of democraticsociety thatprovidesthe best frameworkor necessary means for this end.in a single vision" is precisely the sort of philosophical thinking that Rorty repudiatesas hopelessly misguided (CIS. private perfectionand human solidarity. even our private selves. he neitherdenies thatthe self is significantlyshapedby society nor that individuals.

thatself-realization cannotbe adequatelyfull andsuccessfulif narrowlyself-seeking andfocused on the private: The kind of self which is formedthroughactionwhich is faithfulto relationswith others will be a fuller and broaderself than one which is cultivated in isolation from or in opposition to the purposesand needs of others. Rorty wants to protectour cherishednegative liberties from philosophical tyranny. beyond what is necessary for letting others live theirs.No philosopher. Rorty brings a second argumentagainst making .In contrast.He would further claim.Even to insist that self-perfectionrequiresactive participationin public democratic process is. which binds the ethics of self with the politics of the other9Why does he insist that individualsin liberalsociety need no othersocial glue to bind them together than the desire for a social organizationwhich will "leave them alone to try out their private visions of perfection in peace?" Why is he especially suspicious of philosophical claims to unite the quest for privateperfection and public democracy9 First. which ultimatelyidentifies personalself-realizationwith public action for the public good.no such ideal shouldbe advocatedand imposedon the pretextthat adopting it is necessary for the public welfare. for Rorty. For Dewey. Moreover. while the other way of life stunts and starves selfhood by cutting it off fromthe connectionsnecessaryto its growth. negative liberty is not liberty enough to guarantee true into the ideal democracy. 302) Here we seem to reachan argumentative standoffwhere choice of theory seems to depend on a more or less aesthetic judgment: is self-realization withoutinvolvementin public life reallyrichenoughto trulysatisfy orrealize the self?16At this point.But to makeself-realizationa conscious aim might preventfull attentionto those very relationshipswhich bnng about wider developmentof self.Democraticpublic concernsmust be incorporated of self-realization.no matterhow sure of his or her ideal of self-perfection. should be able to prescribehow individualsmust live their own private lives.the kind of self which results from generous breadthof interest may be said alone to constitute a development and fulfillment of self. to violate democracy by imposing on our negative liberty a specific ideal of privateself-fulfillment. Yet this is exactly the sort of integrationof public and private that Dewey demands: "to get nd of the habit of thinking of democracy as something institutionaland externaland to acquirethe habit of treatingit as a way of personallife. againstRorty.Shusterman PRAGMATISM / AND LIBERALISM 401 in realizationmust involve active participation public life as partof the end. (E. Theories that identify selfperfectionand the public good tendto providepreciselythatpretext.""5 Why does RortyrejectDewey's democraticideal.

The substanceof hardly give communityand public life. It furtherprivileged the areas of "pure"philosophy (those closer or more adequatelyreducibleto strictlogico-linguisticanalysis).andgeneralmaterialfor distinctivegrowth.So if Dewey is a are.broaderself. in pragmaticterms. remote.Rorty'scontemrequired porary American society makes no public demands on its philosophers. also played a major role in isolating philosophy from social praxis.standardized reaucraticinstitutionswhich. by the ideology of logico-lingulstic philosophy'sdomination.It seems futile to formulateour quest for self-realizationin termsof the public's quest for greaterdemocracyand othercommon goods. a dominationagainst which Dewey cautioned and struggled. it is helpful to look behindthe conflicting views and arguments the differentsocial conditions that structurethem.is just too thin.402 POLITICAL THEORY/ August 1994 participatlonin public life an essential part of personalself-perfection:its futility.in such a context. but. the idea that full self-realization in participation social life madesense. because that the public seems somethingso abstract. By contrast.Dewey ized to affordthe individualadequate may believe thatpublic politics feeds a wider. we are Americanphilosophers cloisteredin theuniversitiesandimpelledto adopt pres(throughsocietal and peer pressureas well as throughthe structuring sures of tenure and differentialsalaries) a narrowlyprofessionalmodel of self-realization. though necessaryfor governance. Ratherthanbeing urgedto develop ourselvesthroughservice to society. Dewey wrote in an age when communitylife was more substantialand coherentfor the individual and when philosopherslike himself played a more active and visible role in public life.17Perhaps.which may be the philosopherof thepolis. philosopher.American since the 1940s.and unfathomable it can rich.it is natural thinkthatprofessional all there is to self-realization. concrete content to our personal lives.and busupplies only unexcitingcommonalities.18 The responsibilityfor the publicdesuetudeof Americanphilosophydoes not lie only with the global (andperhapsdemocratizing)societal forces that have been underminingthe authorityof humanist intellectuals. Rortyargues. to Again.while marginalizing . This formalistapproachnot only intensifiedcompartmentalizing professionalization by reconstructing philosophy in terms of technical discourse and far metaproblems removedfromthe actuallanguageandproblemsof society. for Rorty.has analysis. the trajectoryof which involves little more than writing articlesfor professionaljournalsand books for universitypresses.are not the thick interesting particularitiesthrough which the self can develop and articulateits distinctivevoice.it procedures. In such a distinctionandprivatepleasures to context. bland. Rortyis a "campus" in Americansociety is interested kindof philosopherthatcontemporary only having.

248)."Dewey claimed thatphilosophy could prove its value only "with the formation of directive hypotheses. Chidingcontemporary philosophersfor "lack of imaginationin generatingleadingideas. 11." instead of "with a sweeping pretensionto knowledge of universalBeing" (PC. but it abandonsthe idea that philosophy can compensate by proposing effective means for social empowerment.Shusterman PRAGMATISM / AND LIBERALISM 403 others as "applied. QC.So. "philosophyhas become more important the pursuit of privateperfectionratherthanany social task"(TT. 227).transform.But such charges are unhelpfullysimplistic. Finally. In proposingconcretemeansandends. philosophyshould be "thinkingwhich is operative-which framesand defines ideas in termsof what may be done. He must know thatphilosoexpectationof what this contribution phersare sometimes consultedon publicissues andthatthey educategenera- . it emphasized that philosophical problems that seemed to be deeply about humanlife were insteadsimply problemsof languagethatcould be resolved or dissolved by loglco-lingulstic treatment. philosophy can do very little for concretesocial and political problems.21 AND MEANS/ENDS PUBLIC/PRIVATE Rorty's privatlzationof philosophy is most often explained as uncanng moral complacency trying to justify our selfish preoccupationwith private gain and narcissisticself-fulfillment. not by deducing ontological foundationsfor such reform.and transcendin our quest for for self-realization. By contrast. which typically embody empiricaland normativeratherthanmerely linguistic complexities.Rorty insists on philosophy's utterlack of sharesthe Deweyan refusalto empower sociopolitical utility. This is preciselythe conclusion thatRortyurgesand where his liberalismdiffers sharplyfrom Dewey's. 569.but by imagining the best ends and means for it.Rorty "cannotfind much use for philosophy in formulating means to the ends which we social democratsshare"butrathersees "itsmain use" in thinkingthroughour personalutopianvisions. and which uses the conclusions of science as instrumentalities" (QC. CIS. especially given Rorty'sfrequentcrtique of our society's selfishness and greed.22A more useful critique would be to argue that Rorty denies philosophy's contribution to politics because he harbors an exaggerated should be.19 Given this fundamental premise.20 Dewey thoughtthatphilosophyshouldbe centralto sociopoliticalreform."thus pushing political and social thlnking toward the margins (though not as far out as medical or business ethics). in supplying vocabularies that we can appropriate. 94).His pragmatism by appealto ontological essences and natural nghts.

Opposing the privileging separation of theory from practice. and civic life contributes indispensablesatisfactions and dimensions of selfperfection.we are moreeffectively redirectingit from meansto ends. but ratherintegralpartsof it-as the colors and lines which are the means of a paintingalso form part of its end. tice with the lower laboringclasses. The best way to defendRorty'sprivatization philosophyis to arguethat of by directingphilosophy from public problemsto privateperfection. of public and privatelife. but means to provide individualsthe freedom and to wherewithal enjoy theirchosenends andrealizethemselvesas ends in their own preferred ways. is thatthe public meansof democraticlife is an intrinsic part of the end of full self-realization. Dewey saw the traditionalsharp distinction between ends and means as correlativewith the division between theory and practice.which seems to demand. which identifiesmeaningfulself-realization distinction.because the self is largely shaped by its envlroning personality" society.as for Dewey.But reasonably quite it is farless reasonable assumethatmeaningful to politicsmusttakethisgrand form of radical invention.the Deweyan goal of self-unityor "fullnessof integrated demands the integration. But beyond these aestheticconsiderations.why shouldit have to serve them indirectlyby worryingaboutthe public means? Dewey's reply. whereasends and theory were given to the leisured elite who had the conditions to enjoy them.not the Rortianschizoid division. Similarly.Truemeansarenot simply necessary. 167).Such innovativecontributions he does notexpect to issue fromprofessionalphilosophers.Privatepleasuresare not richenough to satisfy. pragmatism should also .404 POLITICAL THEORY/ August 1994 tions of public servants. For Rorty.Rorty's view that the possibilities of to contributing public life arejust too blandto supplysignificantcontentfor self-realizationseems to suffer from the same sort of exaggeratedexpectawith radicalinnovationand tion. If philosophycan serve these ends directlyby providing and vocabularies exemplarsof self-creation.externalconditionsfor the end.on the politicalfront.Liberaldemocracyand its public institutionsare thus not ends in themselves. either new visions of social ends or at least new methods of implementing those ends thatour society alreadyshares. Rortyargues.both of which identifiedmeans and practhem born from Athenianclass-hierarchy.Part of this reply rests on aestheticgroundsof fullness andunity.Moreover.But this is evidently not enough for Rorty'sproject of distinctiveself-realization."Shared experienceis the greatestof humangoods" (EN. the ends or consummationsthat make life worth living are realizedonly in individualexperience.we recall.23 Dewey's refusal to separate involves the end of privateperfectionfromthe meansof publicparticlpation his distinctivelyholist view of the means/enddistinction.

so to theorizevaguely aboutsuch transformations be a far greater sin of separatingtheory from practice.philosophytoday can do very little to improve those means. so. Rorty's advocacy of philosophy only for private ends seems precisely such a privileging strategyof division. and there is no return. It is not that public means are less importantthan privateends. If we really care aboutends. As public philosophersin the postmodern. 223). It is ratherthat. althoughit is disarmingly disguised by debunkingphilosophy's old metaphysicalclaims."privateperfectiondivorcedfrom public action. postmodern. pragmaticallyspeaking. distinctive individualsby serving their society's quest for freedom. PerhapsDewey's age was somewhatdifferent. For Rorty. 209) bound together by shared ends and values. it makes better sense to use philosophy where it can be profitablyused. means from ends.liberal society will heed our philosophicalurgings for a public sphere of close-knit community. we philosophers simply lack the practicalmeans to transformpublic life and would improvesolidarity. Dewey urged. Not 194)." since we can neitherground bourgeois liberaldemocracyon philosophical foundationsnor concretely imagine any superioralternatives(SH.realisticallyspeaking.we mustequallycarefor the meansto produce them. It is very hard to give up this liberal . 13). and consequentlyof private from public./ Shusterman PRAGMATISM AND LIBERALISM 405 oppose such a separationof ends from means.But to thinkthatour multicultural.a good "old timey Gemelnschaft" (ORT. THEDIFFERENCE CONCLUSION: SPLITTING Dewey offers liberalphilosophersa vision of democraticlife where they can realize themselves as free. As marginalizedintellectualsin a bafflinglyenormousand complex society. where privateperfectionis fused with and enriched by communityaction.24 only is it a price worthpaying. post-Soviet world. while it can do much to realize private ends. "we have little sense of how to make ourselves useful.this "communaland public disenchantment of [with its concomitantdisenchantment public philosophy] is the price we pay for individual and private spiritual liberation"(ORT. is to indulge in nostalgic fantasies of legendary days when philosopherscould pretendto orchestratethe harmonyof the polis. are the "sentimentalindulgences"of the leisured elite (QC. and wherephilosophicaltrainingcontributesto public reform as well as to private growth.hence "endsseparatedfrom means. Rorty can answer this charge of sentimental indulgence with that of sentimental nostalgia. it has alreadybeen paid.

has turnedits despair energy to the politics of cultureand education. Abandoningthis vision is perhapsparticuin larly hardfor leftist intellectualsof my generation. for substituting problemsof dwellers for the problemsof the poor and homeless. The university community constitutes one such public.26 issues like affirmative reformis often philosophicallyinspiredby genealogical such curricular over.However.Americanpostmodern society simply does not constitute the sort of closely integratedpublic or personalcommunityon which Dewey's democraticideal of caring-sharing But. aftertwo decadesof politicalfrustration increasing for substantivereformin more centralpolitical areas. He privilegedcampus in chides us for pretendingthatculturaltransformations the university"will somehow.he is wrong to concludethatprivatepleasuresareall we theoristscan hope to derivefrom philosophy.from solitaryreadersand TV viewers absorbingparentallyassigned texts to group activists keen on creatingour own distinctivecultureandmodes of living.groundedon the Deweyan axiom thatdemocracy"is the idea of communitylife itself' (PP. for politics. It is easy to see how the radical student and activismof the sixties.406 POLITICAL THEORY August 1994 / Utopia. with its rich integrationof the self and the social.25 hope in a philosophicallyinspiredDeweyan GreatCommunity. between the GreatCommunityand the privateindividual. deconstructiveargumentsfor the centrality of the marginal and the value of difference. Morein actionandmulticulturalism the curriculum. absolute values and meanings."whichhe glosses as "initiatives reducingmiseryandovercoming . and pragmatistcritiques of fixed.or socially conscious.For participation such communalactionfor sociopoliticalreform(whethercampussit-ins.The errorin Rorty's logic is to thinkthat loss of the public as a true communityleaves one nothing but the private. 148). and it has. critiques of the canon. not become the focus of concrete political reform with respect to surprisingly. freedom and community. one of which was the commune. national protest marches. Rorty is quick to condemn us "tenuredradicals"from the sixties for the conflatingculturalpolitics with realpolitics.the contempois raryrealitythatRortyportrays equallyhardto deny. sleep-in music festivals) was what gave us our very identities as free individualscapable of distinctive selfourselves creation.Suchcommunalpoliticalactionwas how we transformed from obedientchildrento free adults. if Rorty is right to abandon private-publicself-realizationis based. link up with solutionsto the problems"of "realleftist eventually.there is the notion of smaller communities or publics that are small enough to be real communities of meaningful interpersonalrelations and yet large and powerful enough to connect the individualto the wider social world and affordhim a truearena to enact and enhancehis freedom. AlthoughDewey's liberalideal is hardfor us to abandon.

negative of methods. But conceding this.Rortythinksthatsuch politics "callsfor the total transformation our society" and thatit works to achieve this by ideological unmaskingsand culturaltransgressionseffected throughliterarytheory's specialist tools for deconstructingtexts. is "that upsettingour students'parentswill sooner or laterhelp upset unjustinstitutions" (SH. For university policies concerning admissions and scholarshipsfor the poor. sectarian.The Marxists argue that the entire sociopolitical system of liberalism is so . especially when continuity Is so centralto pragmatism'srejectionof essentialistdichotomies?Probablyfear of cultural politics' global pretensions and its elitist.488-9.politics are continuouswith real politics" and should be vigorously pursued (SH.economic problemsthat Rorty identifies with real politics.WealthyGermanJews could not buy an Aryanmanumission. Why then should he fight to deny this. Finally. as Rorty scornfully sees it. We cultural activists know as well as Rorty the difference between the and problemsof lesbianfeministsat Barnard those of homeless crackaddicts in Harlem. SH. He blasts our focus on culturalpolitics for implying and thus promotinga total despairof reformatoryaction through our extracurricular political system and a rejectionof liberaldemocracyfor corrupt. being irremediably But this implicationseems as silly as arguingthatallocatingone's efforts to supportor coach the local college football team implies thatthe NFL is a hopelessly evil empire that must be dissolved. 7). The strategy. they cease to be enough to wearthe honorifictermreal.pressing. its mastery of what de Man calls the "linguistics of literarlness"(IP. affirmative action in hiring. 20). we can still assert what Rorty denies: "thatcultural. Moreover. 20). so it is odd to arguethatbecauseproblemsof culturaloppressionand racism on the campus are so much less acute than in the ghetto. 487). But Rorty's anxious critique of culturalpolitics rests on conflating two Marxism very differentvarieties of this species-call them poststructuralist and postmodernistpragmatism-both of which thinkthatculturalpolitics is the best thing we humanitiesprofessorscan currentlydo for democracy.just as it is weird to deny thatcollege (or high school) play is good enough to be real football.just as we know thatourcampusreformsoffer no substantial help in solving the more painful.and especially academic.and the holdingof investmentsin countriesandcorporations that foster oppression are not so easily separablefrom the real politics that Rorty commends.it seems problemsimportant dangerously simplistic (although democraticallyAmerican) for Rorty to portraypolitical miseryand injusticein narrowlyeconomic termsof rich and poor./ Shusterman PRAGMATISM AND LIBERALISM 407 the injustice"or alternativelyfor "redressing balanceof power between the rich and poor"(IP.

not only for its moralrefusalof complicity.andwith it thedreamof totalrevolution.They offer no fancy theoreticalfoundationfor thinkingthatcampusandculturalpolitics should be used to advancedemocracy.even irreparably corruptive the use of ordinarylanguage.which held that "Democracymust begin at home. and its home is the neighborly community". In this arena. but in the hope thatit will aid historicalforces workingfor liberalism'stotal disintegration.can give us the firm politicaldisposition andconfidentknow-howneededto throwourselvessuccessfullyintothe wider.for suchpragmatists.ourpoliticalactivity is immediatelytangible and often effective.a narrower field for substantive participation democratic of greatercontroland surveyabilitywherewe can experimentwith concrete proposalsand bettergauge theireffects. central to Dewey's liberalism. (As postmoderns. It would to be betterif we were alreadyprepared tacklethe world. It offers a morefamiliarand manageablearena in actionandreform. thus offering positive reinforcement to habits of engaged.408 THEORY August 1994 / POLITICAL thatall establishedmeansof democraticreform. But using this to condemnour attemptsto ratherthan (andourpublicselves) is to makethe improveour local academiccommunity of the good andto ignorethe continuityof democratichabit. 212-3). such pragmatistsare as appreciativeof the local and piecemealas they aredubiousof totalizedcritiquethrough utopiasof a radical Cultural is Other. This is a good place to exercise our liberaldemocraticvirtuesand the best way to . the otherhand. betterthe enemy These themes of habit and local community are. notanexcuse forabandoning but liberaldemocracy. of course. the universityis ouronly local community. if sufficientlydeveloped and reinforced.simply the practicalpoint thatthat is theareawherewe humanities professorshavethemostknowledgeandpower.to help the homeless the culturallyslighted.andcultureis wherewe live." which we learn to respecteach otheras distinctive individualsand through to care for our mutual as well as private welfare (PP. And these habits. Hence there is nothing for leftist professors to do but practice academicsubversionby writingandteachingagainstliberalideology through transgressiveanalysis of culturaltexts in a covert technical language that neitherbourgeoisoppressorsnorthe brainwashed oppressedcan understand.because only such "face-to face communities" provide"thevitalityanddepthof close anddirectintercourse. on Pragmatists.are always alreadycontaminated bourgeois by ideology. caring. simplyprovidesthebestdomainwherewe canpractice and improveit from within. Subversionshould be practiced.27For us humanistacademics.rejectsuch totalizingtheoriesof ideological systemsandlanguage. compelled by marketpressuresto be gypsy scholars.) politics.more terrifyingterrainthatRortydesignatesas real politics. political action.

helps distinguishDewey from and Martha Nussbaum's interesting neo-Anstoteliamsm that is sensitively embodied. TT.class. CIS. Liberalism and Social Action (Carbondale:Southern Illinois University Press." publishedin Frenchtranslation "L'espair version of this paperhas been publishedas francaises. The other works of Rorty cited in the article are as follows: Contingency.The New Constellation(Cambridge: Polity Press. communal action inspired by our philosophicalhopes and convictions. 1981).and BourgeoisLiberalism. H. abouthumannature. EN. 16 January. nos.Shusterman PRAGMATISM / AND LIBERALISM 409 split the difference between Rorty and Dewey using cultural politics to enhanceourprivateperfectionby makingus better. NOTES 1.vol.not only in ethics butin epistemology. IP. (An abbreviated "TheIntellectuals the Endof Socialism"m the YaleReview80. John Dewey.He is not Dewey. 1989).Irony. 1988).48. Ethics (Carbondale:Southern Illinois Umversity Press."in John Dewey. John Dewey. 233.1992. we should briefly recall a few salient differences. new ends and visions of the good are always emerging. "Philosophyand Democracy. "Intellectualsin Politics. 197-202 (hereafterORT). but rather that any alleged core or "essential"humannatureis subjectto evolutionarytransformation. 1929). AE. 45. 1929). 1 & 2 [April 1992]: 1-16. of course."HumanFunctiomngand Social Justice: In Defense of AristotelianEssentialism. (henceforthLSA). 5. PC. Dewey was an egalitarianliberal who prized individualityand could not toleratethe idea of slavery. Truth(Cambridge: Cambrdge UmversityPress. 3. 1.First. 1991) (hereafterEHO)." Objectivity. or acquiescence to a fixed stationor functionin life. aware of historicalchange. Philosophyand Civilization(New York:Capncorn. This last point. QC.moreactivepublicselves. "Social Hope and Historyas Conmc as social et la fin du socialisme. 1991).Otherworks of Dewey will be referredto as follows: The Public and Its Problems (Chicago: Swallow Press. 4. The Questfor Certainty SouthernUniversityof Illinois Press. Third. The Middle Works."Dissent (Fall 1991): 483-90. See RichardRorty. enjoying the consummationsof caring. 1989).Dewey's embodiedpragmatism inimicalto thelntellectualistAristotelian was ideal of theoria. S. PP. 1954). RobertWestbrook makesa good case (Carbondale: for viewing Dewey's metaphysics of EN and QC as "an effort to provide a philosophical ."in Les lettres Frame."Political Theory 15 (1987): 564-80."Postmodernist in Relativism.Referencesto the compamon volume of Rorty's Philosophical Papers. 1987). 306). 11 SouthernIllinoisUniversityPress. If these themesand his democraticideal of individualflourishingthroughparticipation in public life make Dewey sound just like Aristotle. 1991). IndividualismOld and New (New York:Capricorn. 1963). Experienceand Nature (LaSalle: Open Court Press.) at 2.Dewey's idea of humanflourishinghas no fixed teleology. Essays on Heidegger and Others (Cambrdge: CambridgeUmversity Press.Art as Experience(Carbondale: (Carbondale: SouthernIllinois Umversity Press. and tolerantof difference. See MarthaNussbaum. is similarly more histoncist or antiessentialist insisting that a core humanessence admits of differentlocal and historicalvarieties.Second. "Thugsand Theorists. RichardBernstein. 1991). E. and the fundamental"end is growth itself" (E."Political Theory 20 (1992): 202-46.and Solidarity(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. with its possibilityof radicallynew ends and the rejectionof old ones (ratherthanmerely their"plural" "local"specification).

Of course.where most of Dewey's is.of which the by formalcriteriaof logical validity. Rortylocates his discoursein this for aestheticrealm.TheEarlyWorks. 1982). This pointrequirestwo cautionaryprecisions. 3 (Carbondale: 8. and thatmost of us would be farless happy if the rangeof our choices were strictlylimited so as to make our choices more convergentand less dependenton the randomcontingenciesof our desires. 1991).and the logic of deterrence. see AE. qualification. 344. 244." JohnDewey. 10-2. . of in 7. 1 (Carbondale: SouthernIllinois UniversityPress. and other professional philosopherssometimes get a hearng on public issues as diverse as abortion. euthanasia. thatelitist culturecritics cannotdeterminefor otherswhat trueenjoymentis. 90-2. Rortymay well respondthatdepthis not the highest measureof value. which may be more empowered and influential. vol. with respectto the 10. and Outlinesof a CriticalTheoryof Ethics. Criticsof late-capitalist doubt whetherour varietyof possibilities is any less superficialthan the differencebetween a Whopperand a Big Mac.ecology. and Richard Art Shusterman.. cit." PhilosophicalEssays on Freud. Wollheimand J.the latteris the realmof rhetorical discourse is assessed by its "aesthetic"appeal.e.410 / THEORY August 1994 POLITICAL John Dewey andAmenSee for anthropology democracy. where two different senses of "arbitrary" "contingent"are unreaversus"totallycapricious."I elaborateon these confusions and their philosophicalconse9 on Variations a Theme. 44). The same sortof misleadingconfusionis often madeby philosophers or of arbitrariness convention. The formeris the realmof strictlogical argument persuasion. 1980). But thereis no reason.I am not claiming thatAmerica'sprofeshave no sional philosophers(i. CambridgeUniversityPress.an aesthetictypifiedby remote-control rapid-firedisjoint images. 12.Rethinking (Oxford:Blackwell. can Democracy(Ithaca. It speaks of our postmodernsociety of 57 cable channelswith its aestheticof fragmenchannelzappingand refinedinto MTV's style of tation. SouthernIllinois UniversityPress. this postmodernaestheticpervadesnot only TV culture but intellectualculturewith its ever increasingnumbersof new books. See Donald Davidson. 1992). and easily reversible. Forelaboration Dewey's pnvileging of the ends of aestheticexperienceover the means of science. and close institutional be one reasonwhy a philosopherlike CharlesTaylorcan be muchmoreupbeatthanRortyabout role. vol. 9.Rawls's work has had some influence on SupremeCourt decisions. I thus resist Bernstein'ssuggestion that Rorty's "aestheticizedpragmatism"is what of makeshilm op divergefromDeweyanliberalism. theories. I am not denying that there are other sources for political philosophy. Departmentsof connectionto political science may political science may be one source. soned.PragmatistAesthetics:LivingBeauty."PhilosophicalInvestigations (1986): 36-55. and whetherwe are really enjoying our alleged bounty of choices."Ethics Democracy. 320-66. conflated:"notlogicallyor ontologicallynecessary" haphazard.and mammoth consumerismlike to conferenceswith their mazes of parallelsessions." his excellent intellectualbiography.ed.particularly a pragmatist. JohnDewey. in the university and elsewhere. quencesin "Convention: of 11. 278. to declass such discourseas unphilosophical simply becauseit relies on these broadlyconceived aestheticcriteria. 1981). pointis thatinfluential My This bnngs me to the second policy Initiativesare not coming out of philosophydepartments.NY: CornellUniversityPress. 233."Paradoxes Irrationality. and Rorty's by R. basedon sharedpremisesandevaluated 6. those academicswho dominateour philosophydepartments) political role or influence whatever. the philosopher'spoliticaland communitarian 9. about how attractiveit rendersthe position it advocatesand how bad it makes the rivalslook (CIS. Hopkins (Cambridge: and use of this articlein his "Freud MoralReflection"(EHO).

poorlyintegrated increasingly"fragmented.which of course. 1-19. 22-3. To try to decide the issue on straightforward empircal groundsby examlmng the lives of exemplary individuals who fulfilled themselves is not really an alternativeto deciding it aesthetically (i."in JohnDewey. mother. This desired disposition toward harmonized wholeness." incoherent. nonetheless recogmze that it has become with largerpublic and "disarticulated.I discuss the formalizingand professionalizingpressuresof analyticphilosophyin greaterdetail in "AnalysingAnalytic Aesthetics.butrather on its excessively formalistand socially neuteredanalysis of language.and Steven Tipton.who insist on the crucial social dimension of language. and divided self is especially apt for a society where the individual'sdifferentsocial roles (as waitress. like Austin and Wittgenstein. essential self that both he and Rortyreject. 1985). by RichardShusterman(Oxford: Blackwell. JohnDewey. JohnDewey. 271-319. . 1978). "CreativeDemocracy-The TaskBefore Us. in The Condition of Postmodernity(Oxford: Blackwell. so it is not surprisingthathe regardslanguageas the only social dimensionthatis crucialto self-realization. one that is open to change and growthbut aims at constantlyintegratingthem into a coherentbut ever evolving complex unity. (Carbondale: 16. 9. 17. 1989).e.) One need only recognize that in our postmodern times. Even the apparentgreat exceptions here.and destabilizing forces have been greatly intensified and increasingly destructive to community coherence. 14."See Moms Janowitz. We shall considerhis critiquebelow."AnalyticAesthetics." structures. 18.Habits of the Heart (New York:Harper& Row.William Sullivan. Rorty was professionally formed by philosophy's logico-linguistic turn. and graduatestudent) do not lend themselves to a coherently unified self-definition. I should make clear that the problemwith Anglo-Americanlinguistic philosophy was not its concentration language. fragmenting. 19. these socially decentenng. 20. 1988).. The Last Half-Century:Societal Change and Politics in Amenca (Chilcago: Universityof Chicago Press. Ann Swidler. It is thereforequite ironic. 14 SouthernIllinois UniversityPress.hasdeep sociopoliticaldimensions." in The Later Works vol. "IBelieve. where the individualfeels so baffled by the multipleroles she has to play that she can hardly think of trying to harmonize them into what Dewey recommends as "the fullness of integrated personality" (PP. Similarly. althoughaltogetherunderstandable.culturalpolitics. 15.the ideal of pnvatized self-realizationthrougha randomlycontingent. 1987).centerless. To make this point. 230. ed./ Shusterman PRAGMATISM AND LIBERALISM 411 13. industrial. David Harvey's socioeconomic narrativeof the transition from Fordist modernism to the "flexible accumulation" economy of postmodernismmakes this clear.(Dewey himselfwas already day was thatof a perfectlyintegrated complaining of the disruptionsand divisions caused to communitylife by the technological.and economic changes of his day.TheLaterWorks. never engage in detailed empirical study of the actual sociopolitical factors and struggles governing linguistic meaning in the mannersuggested by Foucaultand Bourdieu. 14 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UmversityPress. one need not maintainthe illusion thatcommunitylife in Dewey's polis led by a philosopher king. Even earliersociological studies. which affirm (up to the 1970s) the continued existence of active community life. 148). is the sort of stable and stabilizing integritythat Dewey can offer without falling back into doctrinesof a fixed. by our taste as to what counts as an adequately rch and satisfying self-realization). resultingin "thedecline of public confidence and trustin the political process. why Rortyso stridently attacksthe philosophyof campus. RichardMadsen. vol. because taste will emerge in our choice andjudgmentof exemplars. See also the accountof the increasingerosionof communityin RobertBellah. 1990). 91.

see Richard Aesthetics Shusterman. we cultural. effects of industrial. a review of Westbrook's biographyof John Dewey: Religious Faith Dewey." Self-deceptively narcissisticas Rorty may consider us to be. Withoutreal contact. 1992)." 22. 1."Nation. Indeed.n. is easy to be cruel. his SH and IP. The religious aspect of Dewey's democracyhas recently been emphasizedin James Miller's "TheCommonFaith.just as one may wonderhow philosophyis qualifiedto offerconcrete experimental social reforms. but merelyagainstthe negativeextremismof what may be its most dominant andradicalacademicform. October 14. Dewey himself alreadyrecognizedin 1927 "theeclipse of the public"as a substantive.I explain this confusionbelow as partof my effortto defendcultural politics.Dewey oftenrecommends its general utility as a guide to social reform through its embodiment of intelligence and method. community. this quote reads"ForDewey.ThusRortycouldarguethat. poor people tend to become "unthinkable" 12) abstractions whom it (p.while regarding public language as merely a means to provide the secure environmentto realize ourselves our through privatelanguage. His advocacy of a feminist theory (even to the point of recognizing the value of forging a separatist feminist culture)leads me to thinkthatRorty'sdiatribeon culturalpolitics is not really directedagainst this projectperse. and AmericanThroughout 24. 25. it is one whose progressivetheoryand politics Rortycommends. 1. Yet he contrastingly denigrates.He attributed loss to the disruptive formsof societalorganization forces thatimposednew impersonal and admimstrative necessary for the complexityandvastnessof ourtechnological"Great Society. Pragmatist (Oxford:Blackwell. overlapping. 27."But he thoughtphilosophy had a crucialrole to play in "thesearchfor the conditionsunderwhich the GreatSociety could become the greatCommunity."See RichardRorty.in Rorty'stext. It is likewise noted in Social Democracyand Progressivism European in James Kloppenberg'sUncertainVictory: 1870-1920 (New York:OxfordUniversityPress. may provide another explanation of Dewey's commitmentto communityand to the fusion of prvate andpublic perfection. even thoughfemilnsm is surelyone of its forms. Lingerng communalreligious sentiments. 147." insistingthatone necessaryconditionwas the renewalof "local communallife" (PP. to no.so one may find thatDewey's notions of intelligenceand experimentalmethod remainso vague and general that it is hardto take them seriously as real philosophicalmeans forsocial ends."Femimsmand Pragmatism. public. this harmonious economic. the projectof culturalpolitics.as if the salvation of the individualsoul dependedon the strengthening purityof the communityof the faithful.campus politicians may learn how to progressfrom canng aboutour often quasi-invisiblestudentsto canng aboutmore unthinkable and invisible masses.in ignorng theseDeweyansocial uses of philosophy. 21. 214). 1986). and with greatdetail in Steven Rockefeller'sbiography.But.for reasonsI explorebelow. 26. 450-4. and DemocraticHumanism (New York:ColumbiaUniversityPress.412 POLITICAL THEORY/ August 1994 But even here he problematicallydivides the self's language into public and private idioms. 255-8.unpragmatic "solvingnames. I shall discuss the option of local communitybelow." Review(Spring 1991): 247-50.Forcritiqueof this division of linguisticlaborandmoregenerally of of Rorty'sdisembodiedtextualization the self.as Rortysuggests in "Love and Money. 1991). 101-6. because (in Levinas's words) "we do not see their face.and to which he even recommendspragmatist Michigan Quarterly philosophyas "useful. 1991. Besides urgingphilosophyto proposespecific concretemeans. . See."and so on. he is readingDewey more charitablyby not linking Dewey's pragmatistliberalismto empty philosophicalnostrums.deeply imbuedthroughDewey's long association with the CongregationalistChurch."CommonKnowledge. 23. Ironically. pnvileging the privateand idiosyncraticas what is essentialto self-realization. The feminist community is another. 1 (1992): 12-17. for example.

/ AND LIBERALISM Shusterman PRAGMATISM 413 RichardShustermanis a professor of philosophyat TempleUniversityand the College Internationalde Philosophie. Turn(Cornell University Press. Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism(ColumbiaUniversityPress. S. His recent 1989). has been published in French (Minuit) and German(Fischer Taschenbuch). editor of AnalyticAesthetics (Blackwell. PragmatistAesthetics (Blackwell. and coeditorof The Interpretive book. 1988). 1992). 1991). He is the author of T. .

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