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Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

lowers one’s critical

lowers one’s critical guard to its content. As a safeguard,then, we need to engage in some additionalactivity – be it logical translation, historicalidealisation or science policy – that ‘rationallyreconstructs’ the content of the published claim toknowledge.But Rorty also wishes to sever the link betweenthe validity of Heidegger’s ideas and their consequences,especially their utility as Nazi ideologyeven without Heidegger’s personal assistance. Atthis point, Rorty pays a visit to Ibansk, since as aself-confessed pragmatist he would normally judgethe validity of an idea precisely by its consequences– except, so it seems, when they happen to be bad.Rorty’s Ibanskian turn reflects a deeper problem,namely, his profound lack of interest in the socialconditions that have enabled Heidegger’s thoughtto acquire their currency for us. Rorty merelyassumes that if we find that Heidegger’s masterwork,Being and Time, addresses important problemsin interesting ways, then we can reasonably concludethat our response is not significantly relatedto either the book’s origins or the process by whichit came to be the text from which we seek guidance.Consequently, Rorty does not try to determinewhether Being and Time speaks to us because thevalue of what it says transcends Heidegger’s originalcontext or simply because we have become186

unwitting captives to that context – victims of whatI identified earlier as ‘second-order colonialism’: wewould have allowed Heidegger’s self-understandingto frame our own understanding of his work. Forexample, Rorty seems to share Heidegger’s selfservingview that politics may occasionally ‘realise’philosophy but is usually an interference that isbest handled with utmost expedience. While thismay help to explain the parameters within whichHeidegger flirted with the Nazis, it fails to establishthe distance needed for a critical evaluation ofHeidegger’s ideas.A good way to capture the difference in attitudebetween Rorty and the positivists (includingPopperians) on the validation of ideas is in terms ofPaul Ricoeur’s distinction between the hermeneuticsof trust and suspicion. Thus, Rorty trusts the greatphilosophical texts as a benign legacy from whichwe freely fashion our own philosophical understandings,while the more suspicious positivists andPopperians would first scrutinise the origins of allsuch texts before their messages can be properlyidentified and evaluated. This difference in attitudeis traceable to at least two considerations. First, likemany other intellectuals in the Weimar Republic,the positivists and Popper were critical of the selfcertifyingsense of immediacy conveyed by theemerging mass media, namely, radio and tabloid187

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