The Contemporary: 'The Practice of Political Theory' and Notes on COVID-19

Fri April 10th 2020, 10:00am
Admission Information

Please contact Ben Libman (libman [at] ) for the zoom linkt to the event.

The Contemporary: 'The Practice of Political Theory' and Notes on COVID-19

Our first session of the Spring quarter will be held on Friday, April 10, from 10 am – 12 pm PST. We’d love to see all of you there, though we understand that not everyone is in a position to make online meetings at the moment. Sadly, food can’t be arranged for everyone. But please feel free to eat your breakfast/lunch during the session!

4/10, 10 am-12 pm: a discussion of Clayton Chin’s The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought & current events; kick-off by Amir Eshel.

Amir Eshel will kick-off our (postponed) discussion of Clayton Chin’s The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought (2018). In addition to this, we hope to devote part of the session to thinking through the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, we have collected some recent articles on the subject (attached), which we’d like to bring into the conversation. We’ll also be reading the following commentary and response by Bruno Latour and Joshua Clover, respectively:

On the book: Recent political thought has grappled with a crisis in philosophical foundations: how do we justify the explicit and implicit normative claims and assumptions that guide political decisions and social criticism? In The Practice of Political Theory, Clayton Chin presents a critical reconstruction of the work of Richard Rorty that intervenes in the current surge of methodological debates in political thought, arguing that Rorty provides us with unrecognized tools for resolving key foundational issues.
Chin illustrates the significance of Rorty’s thought for contemporary political thinking, casting his conception of “philosophy as cultural politics” as a resource for new models of sociopolitical criticism. He juxtaposes Rorty’s pragmatism with the ontological turn, illuminating them as alternative interventions in the current debate over the crisis of foundations in philosophy. Chin places Rorty in dialogue with continental philosophy and those working within its legacy. Focused on both important questions in pragmatist scholarship and central issues in contemporary political thought, The Practice of Political Theory is an important response to the vexed questions of justification and pluralism.

The full reading for The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought will cover the following sections: Introduction, chs. 1, 2, 3

The selections are attached below in PDF format. You don’t need to read them all to attend the session, although you are invited to do so. Unfortunately, we can’t give out free copies of the books we’ll be reading this quarter. 

Responses to COVID-19

Chin/Rorty and Political Thinking

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Wishing you all good health, in solidarity, 

Cody Chun and Ben Libman (coordinators)
Dr. Amir Eshel