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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

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Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
Cover of the first edition
AuthorRichard Rorty
SubjectEpistemology, Philosophy of mind
PublisherPrinceton University Press
Publication date
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature is a 1979 book by the American philosopher Richard Rorty, in which the author attempts to dissolve modern philosophical problems instead of solving them. Rorty does this by presenting them as pseudo-problems that only exist in the language-game of epistemological projects culminating in analytic philosophy. In a pragmatist gesture, Rorty suggests that philosophy must get past these pseudo-problems if it is to be productive. The work was considered controversial upon publication, and had its greatest success outside analytic philosophy.


The main influences on Rorty's work were John Dewey, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Willard Van Orman Quine, and Wilfrid Sellars.[1]


Rorty argues that philosophy has unduly relied on a representational theory of perception and a correspondence theory of truth, hoping our experience or language might mirror the way reality actually is. In doing so, he builds upon the work of philosophers such as Quine, Sellars, and Donald Davidson. Rorty opts out of the traditional objective/subjective dialogue in favor of a communal version of truth. For him, "true" is simply an honorific that knowers bestow upon claims, asserting that they are what "we" want to say about a particular matter.

Rorty explains how philosophical paradigm shifts and their associated philosophical "problems" can be considered the result of the new metaphors, vocabularies, and mistaken linguistic associations which are necessarily a part of those new paradigms.


Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature was seen to be somewhat controversial upon its publication. It had its greatest success outside analytic philosophy, despite its reliance on arguments by Quine and Sellars, and was widely influential in the humanities. It was criticized extensively by many analytic philosophers.[2]

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Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Kögler, Hans-Herbert (2005). Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 650. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
  2. ^ Kim, Jaegwon (1980). "Rorty on the Possibility of Philosophy". Journal of Philosophy. 77 (10): 588–597. doi:10.5840/jphil1980771022.

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