Discursive and Somatic Intentionality: Merleau-Ponty Contra 'McDowell or Sellars'

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (2):199-227 (2014)
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Here I show that Sellars’ radicalization of the Kantian distinction between concepts and intuitions is vulnerable to a challenge grounded in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of embodiment. Sellars argues that Kant’s concept of ‘intuition’ is ambiguous between singular demonstrative phrases and sense-impressions. In light of the critique of the Myth of the Given, Sellars argues, in the ‘Myth of Jones’, that sense-impression are theoretical posits. I argue that Merleau-Ponty offers a way of understanding perceptual activity which successfully avoids both the Myth of the Given and the Myth of Jones. I also argue that Merleau-Ponty’s approach provides an alternative to McDowell’s critique of Sellars. Merleau-Ponty shows, first, that perceptual activity can be characterized as having a unity and structure of its own which is importantly different from that of concepts; secondly, that the unity and structure of perception can be revealed phenomenologically rather than as a theoretical posit.

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Author's Profile

Carl Sachs
Marymount University

References found in this work

Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Science, Perception and Reality.Wilfrid Sellars (ed.) - 1963 - New York: Humanities Press.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.

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