When considered in relation to remarks in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity , Rortian irony becomes a target of criticisms that see it as marred by the conflict between skeptical distance and commitment. But such critique ignores the fact that Rortian irony belongs to a broader literary intuition. In this article I trace Rorty’s concept of irony to the structural properties of a specific group of literary texts. These texts bring together diverse materials the affinity between which is precisely what is at stake in the interpretive game these texts put in motion: the formal, cognitive, and aesthetic coherence of these texts is a potentiality to be realized by readers. I treat the interpretive activity these texts depend on as equivalent to the practices by which inhabitants of democracies reexamine and recompose the materials of their networks of beliefs. Since such practices require a combination of ironic distance to the examined materials with a commitment to the interpretive process itself, they validate a Rortian model of irony.
Contemporary Pragmatism – Brill
Published: Jun 16, 2015
Keywords: Rorty; irony; interpretation; novel; poetry