In his philosophy, Rorty “turns” his reorientation in analytic philosophy and epistemology away from knowledge to a new focus on hope. He adopts the stance of fallibilism and the “liberal ironism,” which challenges the finality or authority of one’s “final vocabularies.” Instead of “theories” which ultimately lead to “forced descriptions,” philosophers should opt for an ongoing “edifying conversation” that develops new and constructive ways of speaking.
However, scholars continue to overlook the fact that Rorty buys into a soft or honest “ethnocentrism,” which seems at best closed and parochial. What David L. Hall calls a “lonely provincialism” inherent in Rorty’s philosophical endeavors generates limitations toward access and interaction with wider horizons of meaning and modes of cultural comparison (see, Richard Rorty: Prophet and Poet of the New Pragmatism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), ch. 5, for more details). Rorty essentially believes cultures and communities are at bottom like Leibniz’s monads—they are windowless, meant to be taken as complete or sufficient in themselves, and therefore, Rorty appears not to appreciate or even take seriously an honest “mutual engagement” amongst cultures, whether they come from the Western (developed) or less-developed world. Rorty appears, unlike Cornell West (his former student), to be in total dialogue with himself (or his people) to such an unhealthy degree, that he acts as if relations between others are statically locked-in and there is little room for growth and integration.
The same unbridgeable divide between the analytic/continental traditions of professional philosophy that so irked Rorty may be at the heart of his social philosophy and his categories of cultural comparison. The disguise of this failure on behalf of Rorty’s projects stems from the egalitarian emphasis and the importance he places on the use of “neutral mediums.” A strong sense of conformity or even assimilation is the mandate for a serious equality. Many will find this ironic given Rorty's insistence on the essentialness of "persuasion" over the strong-arming of "coercion."
Now Rorty's approach makes sense historically, when thinkers were forced to address the dominant authorities or intellectual fads of the day. The trends were setup well in advance and conditioned much of the discourse that was not only acceptable, but even deemed possible. Today this is less so and our ethnic, philosophical, or cultural alliances and loyalties are almost like a free-for-all. We are experiencing a unique time of philosophy and culture without borders, free to roam about in non-provincial ways. Despite its positive impact and resistance toward the balkanization of philosophical schools, does Rorty’s philosophy argue for an excessive self-narrowing by way of its ethnocentricism and "lonely provincialism"?