Main question:

is there a common structure to “understanding” such that philosophers can “understand understanding” and thereby obtain a special status?

Answer to main questionYesNo
philosophyWith a capital PLower-case p
Philosophy is ___ the sciencesQueen of …One of …
Kind of understandingAhistoricalHistorical
[[Having a nature or a historyKant oder Hegel]]Kant

In PMN’s introduction, Rorty sees Platonism was the original justification of Philosophy’s special status. That became outdated, but soon after representationalism became the justification (and still is).