Favorited Achieving Our Country by Richard Rorty by Tom MacWright

I read this book myself in the summer of 2002, as part of making sense of the US response to the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001. I stood at Ground Zero three weeks after the attacks, and heard the stories and rumors in the city that were identical to those a year earlier after a fireworks explosion in my hometown. I was at Grand Central Terminal in NYC when the news of the US attack on Afghanistan in response on October 7th broke, and saw the wave of reaction going through the crowd. I understood the emotions, I did not understand, do not understand, the watershed moment the US made it for itself to be. The twisting of the global wave of empathy into the extortionist statement ‘if you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists’. I understood and felt the pain, not the lashing out. That’s when I started reading Rorty as a counterbalance of sorts. It also centered me on a pragmatist approach to philosophy and ethics in general, during the years of philosophy of technology courses I took around then, and cementing my perspective on working adjacent to tech as a political activity. A constructive yet critical approach, it has become a prime ingredient of my personal definition of optimism. I still have the book, perhaps I will reread it.

…a friend lent me Achieving Our Country. He’s been raving about it for years, that it was the most pivotal read of his political evolution.

Tom MacWright


a generated image (by MidJourney) from the prompt ‘a man is lying in the grass reading a book with Pont du Gard in the background’, which is more or less how I read the book in 2002.

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