Rorty on the Democratic Experiment

"Both Jefferson and Dewey described america as an "experiment". If the experiment fails, our descendants may learn something important. But they will not learn a philosophical truth, any more than they will learn a religious one. They will simply get some hints about what to watch out for when setting up their next experiment. Even if nothing else survives from the age of demcoratic revolutions, perhaps our descendants will remember that social institutions can be viewed as experiments in cooperation rather than as attempts to embody a universal and ahistorical order. It is hard to believe that this memory would not be worth having."

- Richard Rorty, from "The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy"

Image from the Library of Congress, copied from this post.