The intrinsic conservatism of language

I starred the hell out of this footnote from Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature:

Such unconscious sleight-of-hand, when practiced by men of Descartes’s boldness of imagination, is an occasion for gratitude rather than censure. No great philosopher has avoided it, and no intellectual revolution could succeed without it. In “Kuhnian” terminology, no revolution can succeed which employs a vocabulary commensurable with the old, and thus none can succeed by employing arguments which make unequivocal use of terms shared with the traditional wisdom. So bad arguments for brilliant hunches must necessarily precede the normalization of a new vocabulary which incorporates the hunch. Given that new vocabulary, better arguments become possible, although these will always be found question-begging by the revolution’s victims.

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