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 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)
In "Knowledge and the Social Articulation of the Space of Reasons," Robert Brandom reads my "Knowledge and the Internal" as sketching a position that, when properly elaborated, opens into his own social-perspectival conception of knowledge (and of objectivity in general). But this depends on taking me to hold that there cannot be justification for a belief sufficient to exclude the possibility that the belief is false. And that is exactly what I argued against in "Knowledge and the Internal." Seeing that (...) P constitutes falsehood-excluding justification for believing that P. That should seem common sense, but it is made unavailable by the inferentialist conception of justification that Brandom takes for granted. So far from realizing my aims, Brandom's social-perspectival conception of knowledge is squarely in the target area of my argument in "Knowledge and the Internal," which I restate here so as to bring that out. (shrink)
In my Mind and World I appeal to second nature, which, according to Hans-Peter Kr ger, plays a central role in Plessner's philosophical anthropology. But I think this convergence is less significant than Kr ger suggests.This note differentaties my purpose-to disarm the temptation to think perceptual experience, natural as it is, could not figure in what Sellars called “the space of reasons”-from Plessner's, which is to disarm the temptation to hope for an ahistorical insight into what is properly authoritative over (...) the shape of our lives. (shrink)
How do rational minds make contact with the world? The empiricist tradition sees a gap between mind and world, and takes sensory experience, fallible as it is, to provide our only bridge across that gap. In its crudest form, for example, the traditional idea is that our minds consult an inner realm of sensory experience, which provides us with evidence about the nature of external reality. Notoriously, however, it turns out to be far from clear that there is any viable (...) conception of experience which allows it to do the job. The original problem is to show that thought is rationally constrained by external reality. If sensory experience is to provide the solution--in particular, if it is to provide the answer to sceptical challenges--it must therefore meet two criteria. First, it must itself be `receptive'--i.e., appropriately constrained by external reality. Second, it must be the kind of thing that can enter into a logical or rational relationship with belief--it must already be `conceptual,' in other words. In arguing against the idea that anything could serve both roles, Wilfred Sellars termed this conception of experience "the Myth of the Given.". (shrink)