First, go read the blog titled “Philosophy and Remedy” @ thekindlyones.org. I originally posted the following blog in the comments section.
If this blog relies on a distinction between the public & private role of the intellectual then I think irony can serve as the secret that avoids merging them both and forcing the philosopher to act as a politician every time he speaks.
The dream of a single life that fuses the private and the public sphere dates back to Plato’s efforts to answer why one should be just and Christianity’s moral imperative that one can reach self-realization through serving others. All of these relies on the assumption of a common human nature, that both private life and human solidarity are one and same.
I think we can honor both realms of self-creation and social interaction, for both leads to a greater understanding and commitment, for they’re not necessarily contradictory. As we mature in our self-realization, our sensitivity to the pain of others develops as well, which helps our sense of solidarity also develops.
if this relies on a severe distinction between the public and the private world of the intellectual, then to honor this distinction we can resort to irony and remain a liberal. taking a page from Rorty, irony can play a positive role in “accommodating” other people’s private sense of identity. If a liberal uses irony as a technique then he is capable of maintaining a public commitment to liberalism while privately admit the historical contingency of their commitments. as long irony is limited to the private realm, where its corrosive power affects only the personal pursuit of autonomy, the liberal ironist can also uphold a commitment to the promotion of human solidarity.
The ironist has an irreverent attitude to their own collection of ideas & expressions of their basic hopes and vocabularies, i.e., their “final vocabulary,” coz she has been (impressed) by other vocabularies that other people take as final. She also is aware that her current vocabulary can never (underwrite) nor dissolve her irreverent attitude or doubts. Thus she will not ever take her vocabulary to be more or less true than anyone else’s.
However, this definition of irony leads Rorty to the conclusion that philosophy cannot serve as a foundation for politics, or have any role in politics. Basically, there’s no public role for philosophy. It should be restricted to private life, where irony can best serve it, and leave political & moral traditions to deal with the political issues of the day. While it is true that consciousness, language, and subjectivity are all contingent, historical, is this the only possible conclusion to draw? Is it necessarily impossible for theory to construct non-arbitrary grounds to assess factual and value claims, as long these grounds are neither metaphysical or ahistorical? After Rorty, what’s left, except Baudrillard, who is willing to destroy ideas with outrageous exaggerations and unsubstantiated claims?