Three conditions of an ironist geographer

Authors: Toby Applegate*, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Topics: Geographic Thought
Keywords: pragmatism, Rorty,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Galerie 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor

Richard Rorty in “Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity” outlines three conditions that define an “ironist” when introducing the intersection of private irony and liberal hope (Rorty 1989, pp. 73-75). This paper attempts to link those conditions – radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary a geographer uses influenced by other geographies that person has encountered, the realization that geography and contentions within the discipline phrased in present vocabularies can neither underwrite nor dissolve those doubts, and the self-knowledge that one does not think that ones’ vocabulary is closer to reality than others and does not think that it represents any power not the geographer-as-self. In contrast to the metaphysical geographer who takes the question “What is the intrinsic nature of geography?” at face value and that there is an essence to be discovered, the ironist geographer worries about the chance that the wrong branch of geography has been imbued within them, that the wrong language game of geography has been taught to them. While this distinction has been discussed at length in geography, the hope within this paper is to add definitional words to the ironist geographer’s toolkit, to make anti-foundationalism in geography more limber, to acknowledge that geography too has a “language that goes all the way down.” In the end, the thought to be entertained is “Instead of attempting to align disciplinary geographies to reality, we should be adopting, adapting, or creating new geographical vocabularies to see worlds in ways that work.”

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