In Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Richard Rorty observes that “poetic, artistic, philosophical, scientific, or political progress results from the accidental coincidence of private obsession with public need.”1 In the process, he nimbly equates all fields of intellectual study and all avenues of creative pursuit, regardless of any pretensions of objective fact, isolated aesthetic craftsmanship, or national teleology, as nothing more or less than fertile sources of imaginative narratives, narratives hierarchical on the basis of imaginative potency rather than truth or accuracy. The absolutist tenets we habitually rely on-scientific principles, religious systems, versions of the past we cherish as true history-are transient constructs, shifting with the times, with the moods of the populace, with the whim of chance. Accordingly, Rorty celebrates a most romantic vision of iconoclastic genius, in which grandness of inspiration is what counts, ultimately, in our most potent philosophers, scientists, and novelists (poets all, to his eye); he is particularly drawn to those thinkers, those poets, who “try to get to the point where we no longer worship anything, where we treat nothing as quasi-divinity, where we treat everythingour language, our conscience, our community-as a product of time and chance.”2