Pragmatist Hope

Casey Nelson Blake in Dissent:

Rorty has in recent years stepped back from his early atheist pronouncements, describing his current position as “anti-clerical,” and he has begun to explore, with increasing sympathy and insight, the social Christianity that his grandfather Walter Rauschenbusch championed a century ago. In an exchange with philosopher Gianni Vattimo, Rorty movingly evokes an ideal of holiness that Rauschenbusch might himself have offered, in roughly the same words. “My sense of the holy, insofar as I have one, is bound up with the hope that someday, any millennium now, my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law. In such a society, communication would be domination-free, class and caste would be unknown, hierarchy would be a matter of temporary pragmatic convenience, and power would be entirely at the disposal of the free agreement of a literate and well-educated electorate.” Rorty admits he has “no idea of how such a society could come about. It is, one might say, a mystery. This mystery, like that of the Incarnation, concerns the coming into existence of a love that is kind, patient, and endures all things.”

To which I—and everyone else indebted to Rorty for reminding us of this country’s most generous intellectual and political traditions—can only say, amen.

More here.