Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rorty's Death in the Iranian Media


Rorty died a few days ago. I read the news about his death on the first page of the newspapers in Iran. I found it sad that for American media the news about Paris Hilton imprisonment is more of a news than the death of one of America's most prominent philosophers. I talked about this to an American friend. She reminded me that Rorty's death was not actually “important news“ that much, hence not worthy of being in the newspapers' first pages. She found that odd that the Iranian media consider such a thing worthy of the first page (not that she thinks Paris Hilton should be on the first page, but she thinks neither one are really important news of the day.)

I don't really know how important Rorty was for Americans, but his last interview in The Progressive shows how important he was for the Iranian secular leftist movment.

4 comments:

  1. what a great surprise that you are writing again, and you changed the look of the blog too. Anyway, i'm not surprised that the death of rorty went largely un-noticed in the U.S. media, but frankly, i didn't much care for him. With the exception of Judith Butler (who was trained as a philosopher but whose work I guess is more expansive than what counts as philosophy in the U.S.), i can't think if any living American philosophers that I find interesting. Can you?

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  2. I am only someone interested in philosophy, not an expert. So probably I am not the right person to say if there is any living American philosophers that really matter. But you might be right. With my limited knowledge I cannot think of any great philosopher anywhere, not only in the US but anywhere in the world. There are great thinkers here and there, but not in the scale of the 19th century.
    It seems to me that we are in a transitional period, when mankind is trying to re-evaluate the ways it understands its presence in the world. There is a silence that in Persian we metaphorically call "Aarameshe ghabl az Toofan", meaning "The silence before the hurricane." Maybe we are right before a drastic change in our understanding of ourselves and the world, or maybe we are entering a long period of mind "numbness."

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  3. By the way, I cannot understand a sentence in Judith Butler's books. I understand Rorty though. It might be because of a combination of several factors: my lack of knowledge in philosophy, my lack of IQ, my poor English, or my obsolete way of thinking about communication in a period that needs a very complicated and difficult language to describe the ways the society, politics, and culture work.

    

I still believe in a clear and simple language, when it is possible, and I fiercely believe in communication with those whom I think their lack of education and knowledge is taking us towrads a new period of Dark Ages: those who fill the churches or mosques, those who believe in creationism, those who do honor-killing, and those who fight for Taliban's Islam or Pat Robertson's Christianity. Never the gap between intellectuals and the "masses" has been so drastically deep, and I partly blame intellectuals like Judith Butler, Spivak, and Homi Bhabha for that.

    

By saying this, I probably sound stupid to you. I don't understand Judith Butler, Spivak, and Homi Bhabha. I don't understand their language. You might be right. You might say what they have to say cannot be said in any other language. That is possible. Maybe I don't understand Judith Butler because I an not intelligent enough to process their use of language. 



    But there is also a possibility that I am right on another issue. For whatever reason they use their complex and hard-to-understand language, there are certain consequences to their usage of language that cannot be denied. Their use of complex language does not let them to have any impact on the society. They are not heard by majority of the audience they wish to hear their voices. They are not taken seriously outside the academy.

    There is a huge gap between those who live outside academic environment and those who "study" them. I believe this gap eventually helps people like Bush, Ahmadinejad, Jerry Falwell, and the similar to stay in power. It helps the most reactionary political forces to create an image of intellectuals as a creatures "out-of-touch" with reality. It consequently demonizes them as the inhabitants of "ivory towers," people who have nothing to say about anything that matters. Eventually this gap helps the right wing to takeover the political power, and have a monopoly on defining the "truth" for the masses. It is tragic to see how both in Iran and the US the word "intellectual" ("Rowshan-fekr" in Persian) stands for a combination of "traitor + out-of-touch-with-reality". For the people in the street "intellectual" means a person who talks in a mambo-jambo language that has no relationship with the actual life, presenting ideas that probably doesn't have any value. I think the intellectuals are partly responsible for the process that resulted in such a negative imagery of them--and their language is definitely an important factor in this process.

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  4. Yeah, it's a crying shame that Americans in general are hanging on every little factoid about their favorite celebrities (like what they ate for lunch, etc.), while people who are doing the really important work go largely unnoticed.

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