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Ensaios-->KANTIANS AND HEGELIANS – RICHARD RORTY -- 18/10/2017 - 09:08 (Paccelli José Maracci Zahler) Siga o Autor Destaque este autor Envie Outros Textos

By Paccelli M. Zahler

Enlightenment proposed principles demonstrating that political life should be dedicated to the protection of rights common to all human beings, like the right to life, property, free speech, equal standing before law, for instance. In other words, a better world for human beings.

With Postmodernism (Bragues, 2006) [1], “the original Enlightenment legitimation of liberal democracy as the regime that best accords with reason is reduced to a mere cultural prejudice” and “the writings of Richard Rorty offer a promising medium to explore the question”.

In his work “Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism”[2], Richard Rorty made distinction between Kantian and Hegelian people. For him, Kantians are those “who believe that there are things like anything intrinsic human dignity, human intrinsic rights and an ahistorical distinction between morality and prudence requirements”. On the other hand, the Hegelians think that “humanity is rather a biological concept than a moral one, that there is no human dignity that does not derive from the dignity of a specific community or a call to impartial criteria beyond the relative merits of different present or possible communities criteria that help us to evaluate these merits”.

According to Sorin Purec (2009) [3], the result of this division of opinions is “a fictional dispute over social responsibility where the Kantians criticizes any attempt to build moral on the interest of community, while Hegelians deny the need of reporting to a common interest of mankind”.

For Rorty, “If the Hegelians are right, then there are no ahistorical criteria for deciding when it is or is not a responsible act to desert a community”[2]. He claimed that “it was Hegel who revealed the historicity of thought, liberating us from the idea of there being something greater beyond chance and the space-time coordinates we happen to occupy, namely a realm of eternal, unconditional truth”[1].

Bragues (2006)[1] claims that:

“In the face of historicist streams of thought that have undermined the traditional Enlightenment moorings of liberal democracy, Richard Rorty has chosen not to rebuild those moorings with a more convincing form of reason. Instead, he has put his weight behind a form of historicism that ignores the permanent aspects of human experience”.

In short, there are no criteria to justify our moral decisions, because there are no foundations. He seems to agree with Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) that “there are no facts, only interpretations”.


[1]. BRAGUES, George. Richard Rorty’s Postmodern Case for Liberal Democracy: a Critique. Humanitas, XIX, 1-2 (2006). 159-181.

[2]. RORTY, Richard. Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism. 2000.

[3]. PUREC, Sorin. The postmodern American liberalism between the anthropological and sociological approach. Days of Law: the Conference Proceedings. 1. Edition. Brno:Masaryk University. 2009.
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