In the introduction to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature Rorty speaks of later works of Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Dewey as

therapeutic rather than constructive, edifying rather than systematic, designed to make the reader question his own motives for philosophizing rather than to supply him with a new philosophical program.

Which would be the most exemplary of such "therapeutic" works of each of the three?

My intention is to skim through them as I read Rorty's book. Maybe he clarifies it later in the text, but there is no handy bibliography in the edition I'm reading.

1 Answer 1


For Wittgenstein, I would strongly recommend the Philosophical Investigations. This is highly exemplary of the type Rorty is speaking about.

For Heidegger, just about anything would fit into this category, but I would recommend you choose a brief text, because skimming Heidegger isn't going to get you anywhere. Perhaps "What is Metaphysics?" would be a good place to start?

I'm afraid I don't know Dewey well enough to make a recommendation.

Now, that being said: you speak about wishing to clarify what Rorty is speaking of here. If that's your goal, skimming the aforementioned texts probably won't help you much. Instead, why not let us know what it is about Rorty's definition above that you find unclear?

  • Rorty says - I'm paraphrasing - that all three of them in their youth made an attempt to fix something in philosophy, but later realized that they were still operating from within a broken framework and in their later works they distanced themselves from the earlier attempt and wrote ... [that quote in my question]. It's not that I find it particularly unclear, just too abstract, I'd like to see examples of the phenomenon and experience the "therapy" on my own.
    – artm
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 15:08
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    In that case, I think Wittgenstein is the clearest example; comparing the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations should make the contrast crystal clear. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 15:09
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    I completely agree with recommending the Investigations and "What is Metaphysics?" I'd add that, although longer, Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics is also a good example of "therapeutic philosophy." As for Dewey, I'd suggest the essays, "The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy" and "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy."
    – Jon
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 18:19

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