Rorty uses the private–public distinction as a conceptual tool to uphold the ideal of self–creation (Romanticism) simultaneously to the ideal of solidarity (Enlightenment liberalism). The difficulty of accommodating these two apparently opposing ideals has led Rorty to make inconsistent and contradictory claims about the private–public distinction. This article suggests a way of easing the tension that exists around Rorty’s formulations of the distinction. It does so by turning to the thematic of “self–enlargement” to be found in Rorty’s later writings. By presenting self–enlargement as a common feature of self–creation and solidarity, this reading opens up a way of reconciling these two ideals and mitigating some of the difficulties in Rorty’s private–public distinction.
Contemporary Pragmatism – Brill
Published: Aug 23, 2016
Keywords: Richard Rorty; Private–Public Distinction; Pragmatism; Romanticism; Enlightenment; Liberalism