Do we still need philosophical discourse as part of communication within our culture? Is philosophical endeavor still valid? This book offers the views of some of the most popular, distinguished contemporary philosophers who have placed their mark on philosophy. Durgen Habermas, Richard Rorty, Leszek Kolakowski, and Ernest Gellner bring their ideas into confrontation in a unique debate devoted to the present state of philosophy. Habermas begins with a comprehensive account of contextualism. According to him, contextualism is a new form of historicism. What are the merits of an approach that takes into account both a historical and a cultural context? Is the pragmatism promoted by Richard Rorty an acceptable criticism of our platonic heritage? If so, does this mean the end of rationality as a regulative ideal of the human universe? Rorty's answer is Yes. This world-rewned American thinker recommends putting a full stop at the end of a narrative which was useful in pursuit of our ancestors' purposes but is longer useful for ours. Leszek Ko^D/lakowski attempts to undermine the alleged pragmatic merits of pragmatism from the position of an analytic philosopher who continues to value classical elements of philosophical tradition. Ernest Gellner also turns against Rorty's pragmatism, which he deunces as a product of the Enlightenment roots of American culture and its centuries of political and ecomic stability. The future of Western culture may depend on the answers to the questions asked by these authors.
JOZEF NIZNIK is Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. His research has been focused on the borderline between philosophy and sociology, especially such areas as the sociology of knowledge and the philosophy of the social sciences. He is author of four books in Polish. JOHN T. SANDERS is Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is author of The Ethical Argument Against Government, Contra Leviathan: On the Legitimacy and Propriety of the State, and coeditor of For and Against the State: New Philosophical Readings.