Micky Donnelly Untitled #4 2011 Oil on Fabric on Canvas
Richard Rorty, in his book ‘Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity', argues very persuasively that all vocabularies which purport to describe our world are contingent and therefore open to re-adjustment. He says that people who become aware of this contingency can be called ‘ironists’ in that they treat all ‘final’ (i.e. closed and conclusive) descriptions of the world with equal caution, no matter how solid and agreeable some appear to be.
In other words, every accepted description of our world -- religious, artistic, ideological, philosophical, and scientific -- is never completely trustworthy and is open to question.
An acceptance of Rorty’s position, which is itself contingent, activates all kinds of freedoms for us to continuously re-assess our most closely held values, and to reject, re-arrange, or at least challenge, our assumed hierarchies of meaning and our most ingrained notions of reality.