Introduction: “More Trouble than They Are Worth”

Common Knowledge 15 (1):1-6 (2009)
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Abstract

This essay, which is the editor's introduction to part 1 of a multipart symposium on quietism, also constitutes his call for symposium papers. The symposium is meant be comprehensive. It is described as political and broadly cultural as well as religious, and in religious terms is said to cover not only the Catholic and Protestant quietisms (most properly so called) of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but also the proto-quietisms of the medieval Western church and reputedly quietist aspects of the Gnostic, Eastern Orthodox, early Hasidic, Shi'ite, Jain and other Indic, Taoist, and Zen religious traditions. This introduction emphasizes the secular approaches, mostly antipolitical or postphilosophical, that wear the adjective “quietist” metaphorically, including the postmodern currents that Martha Nussbaum has named “hip quietism” and the “minimalist” philosophical version developed by Wittgenstein and some of his successors, notably Richard Rorty. This introduction concludes with attention to Rorty's late essay “Naturalism and Quietism,” then with a dedication of the entire symposium to Rorty's memory

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