In reflecting about experience, philosophers are prone to fall into a dualism of conceptual scheme and pre-conceptual given, according to which the most basic judgments of experience are grounded in non-conceptual impingements on subjects of experience. This idea is dubiously coherent: relations of grounding or justification should hold between conceptually structured items. This thought has been widely applied to 'outer' experience; at least some of the Private Language Argument can be read as applying it to 'inner' experience. In this light, (...) Wittgenstein's suggestion that a sensation is 'not a something' seems infelicitous. The main point of this reading of Wittgenstein is in Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature', but Rorty locates the point in the context of a subtle materialism, and a 'communitarian' substitute for first-person authority, which seem non-Wittgensteinian. (shrink)
In Burge 2005, Tyler Burge reads disjunctivism as the denial that there are explanatorily relevant states in common between veridical perceptions and corresponding illusions. He rejects the position as plainly inconsistent with what is known about perception. I describe a disjunctive approach to perceptual experience that is immune to Burge's attack. The main positive moral concerns how to think about fallibility.
On the view proposed, the content of an intention in action is given by what one would say in expressing it, and the proper form for expressing such an intention is a statement about what one is doing: e.g. ‘I am doing such-and-such’. By contrast, some think that there are normative or evaluative elements to the content of an intention in action which would be left out of a form that merely stated facts. They think that the appropriate way to (...) express such an intention is a statement about what one should be doing. Davidson, for example, thinks that the statement must essentially be a verdict: that doing such-and-such is all-out desirable. But this is to assume that practical reason is reasoning towards the truth of a proposition, the very mistake which obscures its ‘true character’, as Anscombe correctly points out. Moreover, although Davidson's view helps him account for the possibility of weakness of will, his explanation of the phenomenon is strained and inferior by contrast with the account which the proposed view makes available. The proposed view fits into a broader picture in which intentional action is the exercise of a practical conceptual capacity. (shrink)
I argue that Stephen Houlgate misstates an element in the Kantian background to my reading of “Lordship and Bondage” (§2). He misreads my remarks about the need to see Hegel’s moves there in the context of the progression towards absolute knowing (§3), and, partly consequently, he fails to engage with the motivation for my reading (§4). And he does not understand the way my reading exploits the concept of allegory (§5).
I offer an interpretation of the connection between judging and intuiting in Kant (§2). Next I try to clarify how the movement in the self-consciousness chapter, as I read it, fits in the Phenomenology’s progression towards absolute knowing (§3). In some detailed responses to Stephen Houlgate, I reiterate how my reading is motivated by the wish not to discard, or ignore, Hegel’s first formulation of what is to be achieved by the movement in the self-consciousness chapter, and I object to (...) Houlgate’s equation of thinking consciousness with Stoicism (§4). Finally, I try to clarify the point of my invocation of allegory (§5). (shrink)
1. I take my question from Robert Brandom, who remarks in his Study Guide (167): “The title of this essay is ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,’ but Sellars never comes right out and tells us what his attitude toward empiricism is.”1 Brandom goes on to discuss a passage that might seem to indicate a sympathy for empiricism on Sellars’s part, but he dismisses any such reading of it. (I shall come back to this.) He concludes: “Indeed, we can see (...) at this point [he has reached §45] that one of the major tasks of the whole essay is to dismantle empiricism” (168). I am going to argue that this claim is quite wrong. To do Brandom justice, I should note that when he defends his claim, what he mentions is, specifically, traditional empiricism. But he nowhere contemplates a possibility left open by this more detailed (and correct) specification of Sellars’s target — the possibility that Sellars might be aiming to rescue a non-traditional empiricism from the wreckage of traditional empiricism, so that he can show us how to be good empiricists. I think that is exactly what Sellars aims to do in this essay. (shrink)
In his Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein describes, and represents himself as pursuing, a way of doing philosophy without putting forward philosophical theses. I exemplify his approach with a sketch of his treatment of rule following. I focus in particular on the simple case of following a signpost, conceived as an expression of a rule for getting to a destination. Wittgenstein uncovers a threat that we will find it mysterious how one could learn from a signpost which way to go, and he (...) dissolves the threat, not by putting forward philosophical theses, but by reminding us of things we already knew about signposts. Insofar as the point of Wittgenstein's procedure is to give philosophy peace, the label “quietism” fits. I take issue with readings of Wittgenstein's quietism that represent him as uncovering a need for positive philosophical work, but using quietism as a pretext for declining to do the work himself. Wittgensteinian quietism is not a stance of complacency or idleness. The kind of thing Wittgenstein does is difficult and laborious. It requires accurate and sympathetic engagement with frames of mind in which positive philosophy seems to be necessary. (shrink)
This essay is the journal editor's introduction to part 3 of an ongoing symposium on quietism. With reference to writings of James Joyce, Francis Picabia, J. M. Coetzee, Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, Elaine Pagels, and Karen King—and with extended reference to Jonathan Lear's study of “cultural devastation,” Radical Hope—Jeffrey Perl explores the possibility that the fear of anomie (“anomiphobia”) is misplaced. He argues that, in comparison with the violence and narrowness of any given social order, anomie may well be preferable, (...) and, in any case, may be no more than another name for quietism. (shrink)
In previous work I urged that the perceptual experience we rational animals enjoy is informed by capacities that belong to our rationality, and - in passing - that something similar holds for our intentional action. In his Presidential Address, Hubert Dreyfus argued that I thereby embraced a myth, "the Myth of the Mental". According to Dreyfus, I cannot accommodate the phenomenology of unreflective bodily coping, and its importance as a background for the conceptual capacities exercised in reflective intellectual activity. My (...) paper responds to this accusation. Dreyfus misreads my invocation of Aristotle, and is thereby led to suppose, wrongly, that I conceive rationality as detached, brought to bear on practical predicaments from a standpoint other than one of immersion in them. I urge that even unreflective bodily coping, on the part of rational animals, is informed by their rationality. Dreyfus mentions Heidegger's distinction, which is picked up by Gadamer, between being oriented towards the world and merely inhabiting an environment. But he sets it aside, whereas it is crucial for the issue between us. Engaged bodily coping involves responsiveness to affordances, and responsiveness to affordances on the part of rational animals belongs to their relation to the world. I explain how the idea that conceptual capacities are actualized in our perceptual experience is connected with the thought that our perceptual experience opens us to the world. Finally, I suggest that the real myth in this area is the conception of rationality underlying Dreyfus's resistance to my picture. (shrink)
Brandom¿s attempt to motivate inferentialism is found wanting on a number of grounds, including a skepticism about how much recommendation for inferentialism can be derived from the evident unsatisfactoriness of the representationalism Brandom contrasts it with, which seems to be a straw man. Brandom¿s appeal to authorities (Sellars, Frege, Dummett) falls flat; in particular, his reading of Frege¿s early work as inferentialist in Brandom¿s sense is a misinterpretation. Given the programmatic character of Brandom¿s recommendation for inferentialism, the quality of the (...) motivation he offers for it matters more than he has acknowledged. (shrink)