The link between Rorty and non-dual mysticism – the Tao, Buddhist emptiness, Advaita Vedanta, negative theology - is that he’s continually trying to convince us that there is nothing to hold onto. There’s no It. No way in which It really is. No essence. That our words, vocabularies, concepts, or the assumption we have about them, keeps fooling us into thinking we can grasp how things are if we get our words to work, our understandings to cohere.
But, according to him, it’s also not the case that we know for sure that there is no essential nature to things. That would be another metaphysic. He wants us to leave off the search, stop asking the bad philosophical questions. But how to let go?
Rorty is the only philosopher I’ve kept reading over the years and yet he keeps doing the same thing just in different ways. As he said, nowadays he’s just “tweaking” what he’s already written. I keep reading him because I can’t let go of the dream. The dream of finding The Answer, the final resting place, where one doesn’t have to search anymore. Wittgenstein said the goal of philosophizing is to be able to stop philosophizing when you want to. I both believe Rorty that one must let that quest go and, since I keep reading him, obviously don’t believe it. To choose his view and say that’s the way it is is to contradict oneself because you choose to rest and feel sure that there is no surety. To do the opposite and cling to a fundamental understanding and say there is a Way, an Answer, The Truth, is to cling to an ideal that you cannot prove and so believe in that which you cannot show and so, as a rationalist, contradict yourself. The contradiction at the limits of thought.