So even the natural sciences do not deliver Reality. They do tell us what physical reality is like, but they cannot tell us what metaphysical reality is like - or Reality - reality as it is in itself when no human, or only God, is viewing it. So I like Nelson Goodman’s notion of worldmaking. We fashion worlds that work to varying degrees of effectiveness and are constrained by the criteria we adopt or presuppose in the worldview. (There’s a critique of Goodman’s full-strength relativism by the philosopher Harvey Siegel that I still want to examine.) People confront us (and we confront them) with various world-fashionings, and we try to make sense, or take action, or make decisions or agree to disagree together. So Rorty emphasizes solidarity over objectivity. The important point is not that I am the one who has reality as it is, the important point is that however I see things, I’ll have to engage someone else and react to their reaction.
But the natural sciences are so successful; doesn't that prove how the world really is? Well, it creates a compelling picture of the world, but is that how the world really is? The question of how the world really is, is a philosophical, not a scientific question. Scientists, as scientists, do not comment on Reality. Romantic poets also tell us how the natural world is in very moving ways. Does the Romantics natural reality have less reality than the natural scientist’s view? Impressionist painters have changed the way the world looks to those who’ve absorbed their vision. Did the world change or did we change? So too the mystic, through arduous and rigorous examination of experience, finds that ultimately nature and consciousness are not as they appear. Are they wrong and the scientists right? And if subatomic physicists find that matter is not exactly made up of a substance does that become reality? By what criterion do we evaluate their differing claims? Who decides which criterion to apply?