A brilliant, humane scholar. A public intellectual in the finest sense, and a profound influence on the way I think about politics, long-time Nation contributor Richard Rorty has died.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rorty a few years ago and wrote one of my earliest pieces about a debate he had with Jurgen Habermas here in Chicago. Rorty had an uncanny ability to stare into the post-modern abyss, in which nothing is grounded in the divine or universal, and yet somehow, some way, find a kind of practical empathy that could serve as a beacon in the face of nihilism, authoritarianism and cruelty.

He will be greatly, greatly missed.