Is Husserl guilty of Sellars’ myth of the sensory given

Synthese 199 (3-4):6371-6389 (2021)
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This paper shows that Husserl is not guilty of Sellars’ myth of the sensory given. I firstly show that Husserl’s account of ‘sensations’ or ‘sense data’ seems to possess some of the attributes Sellars’ myth critiques. In response I show that, just as Sellars thinks that our ‘conceptual capacities’ afford us an awareness of a logical perceptual space that has a propositional structure, Husserl thinks that ‘acts of apprehension’ structure sensations to afford us perception that is similarly propositionally structured. Not only this, but there is much affinity and shared motivation between Husserl and Sellars accounts of the sensory stratum. Reflection on phenomenological considerations prevents Sellars from denying phenomenal non-conceptual content, whilst Husserlian ‘sense data’ are technical designations; dependant parts of perceptual experience grasped in abstraction, necessary for providing a reflective/philosophical account of empirical knowledge. I show that both Husserl and Sellars assert that the proper description of phenomenal content affords it the function of presenting properties of spatial objects during perception, and reiterate the well-known fact that Husserl thinks that perception is of ‘conceptually’ apprehended spatiotemporal objects.



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Citations of this work

The unbearable lightness of the personal, explanatory level.Heath Williams - 2022 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-21.

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References found in this work

Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.Wilfrid S. Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Perception.Henry Habberley Price - 1932 - Methuen & Co..
Logical Investigations.Edmund Husserl & J. N. Findlay - 1972 - Journal of Philosophy 69 (13):384-398.

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