Oakeshott and Rorty on the Nature of Philosophy
Damian Ilodigwe

Oakeshott was one of the philosophers Rorty acknowledged in his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature in his effort to rethink the nature of philosophy, following his rejection of traditional epistemology and its associated concept of philosophy as the ground of all disciplines. Given Rorty’s explicit acknowledgement of Oakeshott in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Oakeshott’s view has often been compared with Rorty’s view. Indeed many commentators wonder whether there is any difference between Oakeshott’s view in The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind and Rorty’s anti-foundationalist understanding of philosophy. Yet while the affinity between Oakshott’s view and Rorty’s view is undeniable, Oakeshott’s view is arguably not collapsible into Rorty’s, so that to read Oakeshott’s view with Rorty’s lens will be a fundamental mistake as there is a significant difference between the two positions. While Oakeshott is undoubtedly equivocal in The Voice of Poetry, it remains to be seen whether Oakeshott will settle for the view that makes philosophy no more than one of the disciplines. Our contention is that if the ambiguities that bedevil Oakeshott’s account of Philosophy in the Voice of Poetry and the Conversation of Mankind are read against the backdrop of his philosophy of experience, it immediately precludes any reductionist account of the nature of philosophy. Nonetheless the affinity between Rorty and Oakeshott is significant and perhaps, properly understood, it sheds light on the nature of Oakeshott’s philosophical project and thus offers a key for interpreting the ambiguity of The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind as well as reconciling it with his position in Experience and Its Modes.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijpt.v7n1a4