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Loss of a Great Mind

On June 8, American philosopher Richard Rorty died of pancreatic cancer.

I was among those privileged to have been a student of his, as he was my thesis adviser while an undergrad at University of Virginia. I also went to hear him often as a lecturer after he moved to Stanford while I was in law school there. He was a tremendously gifted, unassuming and generous teacher, and had an enormous intellect and appetite. Many times, I saw him invite spirited and fascinating debate with students and his many critics in academe. He was a pragmatic moralist of the left who resisted all ideology, replacing it with the contingency of democratic institutions and an unflagging compassion for human suffering.

This video shows him confronting the great evil of Bush’s post-911 "crypto-fascist" state with a characteristically radical but clear-eyed assessment of our shared peril. A world bereft of his insight is a poorer one for it.