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Epistemology and Science in the Image of Modern Philosophy: Rorty on Descartes and Locke

Gary Hatfield

in Future Pasts

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139167
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019513916X.003.0020
 Epistemology and Science in the Image of Modern Philosophy: Rorty on Descartes and Locke

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In Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Richard Rorty locates the perceived ills of modern philosophy in the “epistemological turn” of Descartes and Locke. Hatfield argues that Rorty’s accounts of Descartes’s and Locke’s philosophical work are seriously flawed. Rorty misunderstood the participation of early modern philosophers in the rise of modern science, and he misdescribed their examination of cognition as psychological rather than epistemological. His diagnostic efforts were thereby undermined, and he missed Descartes’s original conception of a general physics and Locke’s probabilist analysis of the grounds for rational belief.

Keywords: Descartes; Locke; Richard Rorty; epistemology; modern science; psychology; physics

Chapter.  11690 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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