Richard Rorty: A friend of Dan Dennett (and his dreaded scientism : ). A neo-pragmatist. An analytic philosopher who began teaching around the mid-20th-century, he eventually turned against its scientism. Rorty felt that 20th-century analytic thought was going down the wrong track by taking up the same sort of epistemological foundationalist project as Descartes. Rorty saw the narrow sense-data and logic focus of the positivists as crumbling from its own internal critique. He helped launch and participate in the ‘linguistic turn’ in analytic thinking, embracing as an alternative way forward Wittgenstein‘s account of linguistic meaning as use not strictly tied to representation.
Here’s some more Lawrence Cahoone elaborating:
Rorty drew a parallel between his turn and a similar critical turn to language going on in the continental phenomenological tradition. Whereas 20th-century phenomenology had been founded on Husserl’s own mental foundationalist project, figures such as Jacques Derrida, in light of Heidegger, began to take a deconstructive and linguistic approach to the mentalist tradition. In this sense Rorty always saw Derrida as a kindred spirit. They were both sharp readers of Hegel and Heidegger, but in their political sensibilities both were liberal reformers rather than radicals like a Zizek. Rorty was a student and friend of Quine, even though Quine notoriously tried to prevent Cambridge from awarding an honorary degree to Derrida in 1992. In many ways barely touched on here, Richard Rorty was the heart and intersection of recent philosophy, because he read so liberally in both the Anglo analytic and continental phenomenological traditions and inspired others to begin crossing the divide as well. The interesting recent work of such people as Robert Brandom, whose theory of inferentialism in meaning owes equally to Frege and Hegel, can be attributed to Rorty’s influence.