Richard Rorty was an analytic philosopher so the rest of us don’t have to be. The bulk of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, his most well-known book, is spent running through a sampling of major problems within the tradition – in the dry manner characteristic of the discipline – with Rorty showing how the questions posed will not be settled by increasingly clever responses, but are simply unanswerable.

Rorty makes one point clear, one that his critics persistently ignore: he is not telling scientists to stop searching for verifiable evidence about the world. He is merely telling philosophers watching from the sidelines to stop speaking of these discoveries as the gradual convergence of human understanding with the ultimate reality of existence.

Rorty makes a bad intellectual lover. He gets you all worked up by dismantling a bunch of old ideas and you start to brace yourself for moment when he’ll unveil a new conceptual framework that will bring you to a glorious climax. But he never gets you there. He just refuses to offer anything more revolutionary than his belief that philosophy is a conversation, one that it is good to continue.