On Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Part II: “Mirroring” (Ch. 3–4).
Is a “theory of knowledge” possible? Rorty says that while of course psychology has interesting things to say, any specifically philosophical effort is doomed. Why? Because there is no fixed point outside of the “knowledge language game” that provides an ultimate grounding.
Rorty draws on Sellars (ep. 154) to say that there is no sensory “given” or primary intuition of reason that can serve this function, and also on Quine (ep. 66) who argued that there are no “analytic truths,” that even the truths of logic are merely central to our web of belief, not immovable foundations.
Rorty is arguing for a coherence view of truth, where propositions can only be justified by how well they fit with the other propositions, not by their correspondence to the world outside of human discourse. He thinks that since Locke and Kant, we have come to think of this philosophical project of figuring out the roles of intuition (what we sense) vs. concepts (what our minds do to make sense of this sense data) as an inescapable problem, but no: As with the related issue of inner mind vs. outer world (as discussed in ep. 153), this has been a matter of our idiosyncratic history, and a proper reading of the ancient Greeks will not find this paradigm of epistemic theorizing at all.
End song: “The Ghosts Are Alright” from The Bye-Bye Blackbirds (Houses and Homes, 2008), as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #32.