The prince of pragmatism and a lion of Stanford, Richard Rorty, died last week in Palo Alto at age 75. Rorty was most famously a philosophical pragmatist, believing that the philosopher's role in life is to answer our pressing everyday questions, not to get lost in abstract theories. According to his obituary, in his later years he "fiercely criticized the Bush administration, the religious right, Congressional Democrats and anti-American intellectuals." And despite the pessimism caused by any extended contemplation of these groups, he had hope for his country to the end.
You can listen to one of Rorty's last public speaking engagements, the annual Dewey lecture at the University of Chicago, here.