- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2007

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Philosopher and Stanford University comparative literature professor Richard Rorty died from pancreatic cancer at his campus home on June 8. He was 75.

Mr. Rorty’s landmark book “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature” (1979), rankled some of his peers by arguing that there is no distinction between objective and subjective realities, a theme he continued to develop throughout his career.

“I don’t see much use for the idea of philosophy as knowledge production,” he said during a forum at Stanford in March 2001. “Philosophy is a tradition of overlapping texts. It’s not a scientific discipline.”

Mr. Rorty came to Stanford as a fellow at the Humanities Center in 1996 and then joined the faculty of the comparative literature department in 1998. His decision to teach comparative literature instead of philosophy reflected his belief that the two were essentially the same.

He was born Oct. 4, 1931, in New York City. At14, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy. He attended Yale University from 1952 to 1956, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy.

The bulk of Mr. Rorty’s academic career was spent at Princeton , where he taught from 1961 until 1982, when he moved to the University of Virginia.

Jerome Schneewind, a friend and Johns Hopkins University professor of philosophy, said in a Stanford press release that Mr. Rorty “lived in a peculiar relation to philosophy.”

“He was a major figure in challenging the accepted pieties of analytic philosophy and the accepted pieties of so-called continental philosophy,” said Mr. Schneewind. “He put a bug in everyone’s ear.”