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from: The New York Times
June 11, 2007


Richard Rorty, Contemporary Philosopher,
Dies at 75

by Patrick Cohen

Richard Rorty, whose inventive work on philosophy, politics, literary theory and more made him one of the world's most influential contemporary thinkers, died Friday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75....

"He rescued philosopy from its analytic constraints [and returned it] to core cocncerns of how we as people, a country and humanity live in a political community."...

The widespread notion that the philosopher's primary duty was to figure out what we can and cannot know was poppycock, Mr. Rorty argued. Human beings should focus on what they do to cope with daily life and not on what they discover about theorizing....

His views were attacked by critics on the left and the right. The failure to recognize science's particular powers to depict reality, Daniel Dennet wrote, shows "flatfood ignorance of the proven methods of scientific truth-seeking and their power."...

[It] became clear that [Rorty] did not have much sympathy for analytic philosophy either, not to mention the entire Cartesian philosophical tradition that held there was a world of independent thought.



Violin Dreams
by Arnold Steinhardt

2006 Arnold Steinhardt

Arnold Steinhardt is the first violonist of the
Guarneri String Quartet.


...I dreamed I moved back to my birthplace, Los Angeles, and had to find a place to live. To my surprise, a real estate agent showed me the very apartment I lived in as a child. We walked thorough all the rooms, ending in the second and last bedroom. I loved the apartment and told the agent that I was eager to take it. "Excellent," she said, "the rent is three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month." I could not believe my ears. The agent, ignoring my strenuous objections to the exorbitant cost, strode purposefully into the bedroom closet and opened a concealed door in the back. To my astonishment, it led to a dizzyingly huge, hangarlike area. "This," she said triumphantly, "is why the apartment is worth every bit of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month. Imagine what you can do with the space—build a factory, a skating rink, a department store. Why not, say, a Bloomingale's West? This place has enormous potential."

I found the dream interesting, but its meaning eluded me. Why my old apartment? Why secret doors? Why giant spaces?

Not long afterward I took my son Alexander with me to visit my mother in Los Angeles. Mother and I decided to show him the old neighborhood where we had once lived. As luck would have it, there was a FOR RENT sign on the window of our apartment—the very one I had dreamed about—and the super let us in to look at the place. When we arrived at the second bedroom, I opened the closet door and told Mother and Alexander about the dream. We looked at the small, enclosed space, furnished with only a few forlorn empty hangers. Almost wistfully, I examined the back wall. There was no secret door. The closet led nowhere.

Then a thought hit me. I had stored my very first violin in this closet—the violin that opened my eyes, ears, and heart to music, the violin that set me on a journey I am following still. I felt exalted. The real estate agent was right: enormous potential....


From the Epilogue.


June 10, 2007

Get Shrunk at Your Own Risk

by Sharon Begley

No one bats an eye when a drug for a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or depression causes serious side effects such as nausea, weight gain, blurred vision or a vanishing libido. But what few patients seeking psychotherapy know is that talking can be dangerous too—and therapists have not exactly rushed to tell them so.

For treatments that come in a bottle, the Food and Drug Administration requires proof of safety and efficacy. For treatments that come from the lips of psychologists and psychiatrists, there's no such requirement. But while therapists fight over whether they should use only treatments for which there is rigorous scientific evidence for efficacy, they have largely ignored something more fundamental. "The profession hasn't shown much interest in the problem of treatments that can be harmful," says psychology professor Scott Lilienfield of Emory University. "Of the few psychotherapies that have been tested for safety, too many cause harm to at least some patients."

The failure to heed Hippocrates reflects the assumption that psychotherapy is, at worst, innocuous. That naive trust should have been blown out of the water when "recovered memory" therapy actually created false memories, often of childhood sexual abuse, tearing families apart. But the "Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Therapy," the clinicians bible, devotes 2.5 pages out of 821 to adverse effects, even though documented risks of therapies could fill a small book. ...

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