In manuscripts from 1929, Wittgenstein envisaged a phenomenological language as a means to describe the experience of objects, alternative to an account of experienced objects provided by ordinary language - but the project failed. The chapter addresses that failure and its significance to philosophical methodology. Wittgenstein acknowledges that the ideal of a non-hypothetical description of immediate experience tempted not only him, but also other philosophers. The chapter traces an itinerary to his concerns that the fulfilment of that ideal - to (...) purely describe a purified experience - would eventually lead into "a bewitched swamp where everything comprehensible vanishes" and would ultimately involve an "inarticulate sound with which many writers would like to begin philosophy". Wittgenstein perceives variations of that sound in Husserl, Heidegger, and the private language he later addresses. (shrink)
This paper outlines an Husserlian, phenomenological account of the first stages of the acquisition of empirical knowledge in light of some aspects of Wilfrid Sellars’ critique of the myth of the given. The account offered accords with Sellars’ in the view that epistemic status is attributed to empirical episodes holistically and within a broader normative context, but disagrees that such holism and normativity are accomplished only within the linguistic and conceptual confines of the space of reasons, and rejects the limitation (...) of the relevant normativity to the cognitive domain. Attention to the phenomenological notion of motivations in our mapping of the structure and acquisition of empirical knowledge reveals a form of weak categoriality given in experience, one outside exclusive mediation by language and concepts but also not merely causal. Section 1 outlines some basic aspects of Sellars’ account of empirical knowledge in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, including a regress objection that arises due to his claim that empirical knowledge presupposes knowledge of general facts about perception. Section 2 examines Sellars’ later revisiting of the objection, via his critique of Roderick Firth, in “The Lever of Archimedes,” focusing on his analysis of the “Myth of the Categorial Given” and his use of the notion of ur-concepts. Section 3 looks at Sellars’ psychological nominalism and his rejection of the explanatory primacy of experience in light of the strict dichotomy between the space of causes and the space of reasons, and shows how Firth’s account aligns with phenomenology in its advocating for an irreducible and non-inferential role for experience. It also raises an important objection to Sellars’ account concerning the categorial givenness of causality. Section 4 turns to Husserl, arguing that his conception of motivation in the Logical Investigations and Ideas II reveals a third explanatory or logical space “between” that of causes and that of reasons. Section 5 further develops this account with regard to the explanatory role of lived experience. Section 6 revisits the regress objection to Sellars from the phenomenological standpoint developed earlier in the paper, and argues that an Husserlian account of empirical knowledge offers a viable alternative to Sellars’ that overcomes the regress objection and gives proper explanatory weight to the evidence of lived experience vis-à-vis scientific presuppositions about causality. (shrink)
The work of Kripke, Putnam, Kaplan, and others initiated a tradition in philosophy that has come to be known as anti-descriptivism. I argue that when properly interpreted, Wilfrid Sellars is a staunch anti-descriptivist. Not only does he accept most of the conclusions drawn by the more famous anti-descriptivists, he goes beyond their critiques to reject the fundamental tenant of descriptivism—that understanding a linguistic expression consists in mentally grasping its meaning and associating that meaning with the expression. I show that Sellars’ (...) alternative accounts of language and the mind provide novel justifications for the anti-descriptivists’ conclusions. Finally, I present what I take to be a Sellarsian analysis of an important anti-descriptivist issue: the relation between metaphysical modal notions (e.g., possibility) and epistemic modal notions (e.g., conceivability). The account I present involves extension of the strategy he uses to explain both the relation between physical object concepts (e.g., whiteness) and sensation concepts (e.g., the appearance of whiteness), and the relation between concepts that apply to linguistic activity (e.g., sentential meaning) and those that apply to conceptual activity (e.g., thought content). (shrink)
In the current philosophy of perception, a debate about whether concepts permeate perceptual states in constituting the perceptual object or not has been widely discussed. Analytic philosophers and phenomenologists participate in this debate likewise, but it is also a debate in Kantian scholarship since the conceptualists’ thesis goes back to Kant’s Criticism and neo-Kantians already discussing such theory against any philosophy of immediate experience long before Wilfrid Sellars had started his attack against the so-called myth of the given. In light (...) of this historical panorama, the article reconstructs Ernst Cassirer’s views on perception in order to systematically reject both Conceptualism and Non-Conceptualism. It can be shown that both positions are uncritical stances which make claims to either the absoluteness of language or perception and that much-discussed arguments such as the fineness of grain argument rely on a category mistake. The proposed solution is a view that upholds the criticism against the myth of the given, but replaces the idea of a conceptual mediation of perceptual experience with a symbolic mediation. As a consequence, perception must perform a paradoxical feat and has thus to be elastic. (shrink)
Tomamos como certo que os nossos sentidos nos colocam em contato com o ambiente ao nosso redor. Enquanto caminhamos em uma rua, vemos obstáculos que temos de contornar ou remover. Mesmo de costas, podemos ouvir a bicicleta que se aproxima e dar passagem. Em suma, por meio de experiências perceptivas (visuais, auditivas, olfativas etc.), ficamos conscientes de objetos ou eventos que estejam ocorrendo ao nosso redor. Além disso, com base no que percebemos, podemos formar e manter crenças acerca do ambiente (...) e, assim, adquirir conhecimento perceptivo acerca do mundo. A importância desse conhecimento acerca do que está ao nosso alcance perceptivo é inestimável para a nossa sobrevivência e a condução de nossos projetos cotidianos. Contudo, podemos querer saber (1) se de fato temos acesso ao mundo físico circundante por meio das nossas experiências perceptivas, e (2) se e como essas experiências justificam as nossas crenças acerca do que percebemos. Esses problemas são centrais para a epistemologia da percepção, embora não sejam os únicos. Nessa entrada, abordaremos esses dois problemas. (shrink)
What kinds of mental states can be based on epistemic reasons? The standard answer is only beliefs. I argue that perceptual states can also be based on reasons, as the result of crossmodal interactions. A perceptual state from one modality can provide a reason on which an experience in another modality is based. My argument identifies key markers of the basing relation and locates them in the crossmodal Marimba Illusion (Schutz & Kubovy 2009). The subject’s auditory experience of musical tone (...) duration is based on the reason provided by her visual representation of the length of the musician’s gesture and other stored perceptual principles. (shrink)
Perceptual experiences are not immediately responsive to reasons. You see a stick submerged in a glass of water as bent no matter how much you know about light refraction. Due to this isolation from reasons, perception is traditionally considered outside the scope of epistemic evaluability as justified or unjustified. Is perception really as independent from reasons as visual illusions make it out to be? I argue no, drawing on psychological evidence from perceptual learning. The flexibility of perceptual learning is a (...) way of responding to new epistemic reasons. The resulting perceptual experiences are epistemically evaluable as justified or unjustified. (shrink)
Many have taken Sellars’s critique of empiricism in “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” (EPM) to be aimed at his teacher C. I. Lewis. But if so, why do the famous arguments of its opening sections carry so little force against Lewis’s views? Understandably, some respond by denying that Lewis’s epistemology is among the positions targeted by Sellars. But this is incorrect. Indeed, Sellars had earlier offered more trenchant (if already familiar) critiques of Lewis’s epistemology. What is original about EPM (...) is that it criticizes empiricist positions like Lewis’s not because of their foundationalism, but because of their psychologism about meaning. Since psychologism turns out to be unacceptable by Lewis’s own lights, EPM has a compelling (if implicit) critique of Lewis to offer after all, one that strikes at the heart of his philosophical system. (shrink)
This paper is about the epistemology of perceptual experiences that have enriched high-level content. Enriched high-level content is content about features other than shape, color, and spatial relations that has a particular etiology. Its etiology runs through states of the agent that process other perceptual content and output sensory content about high-level features. My main contention is that the justification provided by such experiences is not foundational justification. This is because the justification provided by such experiences is epistemically dependent on (...) having justification to believe certain claims about the content relevant for enrichment—claims about what I call the corresponding features. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to assess the viability of a perceptual epistemology based on what Anil Gupta calls the “hypothetical given”. On this account, experience alone yields no unconditional entitlement to perceptual beliefs. Experience functions instead to establish relations of rational support between what Gupta calls “views” and perceptual beliefs. I argue that the hypothetical given is a genuine alternative to the prevailing theories of perceptual justification but that the account faces a dilemma: on a natural assumption about (...) the epistemic significance of support relations, any perceptual epistemology based on the hypothetical given results in either rationalism or skepticism. I conclude by examining the prospects for avoiding the dilemma. One option is to combine the hypothetical given with a form of holism. Another is to combine the view with a form of hinge epistemology. But neither offers a simple fix. (shrink)
Methodological problems often arise when a special case is confused with the general principle. So you will find affordances only for ‚artifacts’ if you restrict the analysis to ‚artifacts’. The general principle, however, is an ‚invitation character’, which triggers an action. Consequently, an action-theoretical approach known as ‚pragmatic turn’ in cognitive science is recommended. According to this approach, the human being is not a passive-receptive being but actively produces those action effects that open up the world to us. This ‚ideomotor (...) approach’ focuses on the so-called ‚epistemic actions’, which guide our perception as conscious and unconscious cognitions. Due to ‚embodied cognition’ the own body is assigned an indispensable role. The action theoretical approach of ‚enactive cognition’ enables that every form can be consistently processualized. Thus, each ‚Gestalt’ is understood as the process result of interlocking cognitions of ‚forward modelling’ and ‚inverse modelling’. As can be shown, these cognitions are fed by previous experiences of real interaction, which later changes into a mental trial treatment, which is highly automated and can therefore take place unconsciously. It is now central that every object may have such affordances that call for instrumental or epistemic action. In the simplest case, it is the body and the facial expressions of our counterpart that can be understood as a question and provoke an answer/reaction. Thus, emotion is not only to be understood as expression/output according to the scheme ‚input-processing-output’, but acts itself as a provocative act/input. Consequently, artifacts are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for affordances. Rather, they exist in all areas of cognition—from Enactive Cognition to Social Cognition. (shrink)
This paper investigates how the doctrine of the epistemological given—long associated with empiricism and positivism and also informing Carnap’s first major work in 1928—was challenged and overcome by Neurath and Carnap in subsequent years. Particular attention is paid to the controversial issue of how precisely the dialectic between Neurath and Carnap played out: whether Neurath’s argumentation correctly engaged with Carnap’s actual positions, whether Carnap’s change of positions in turn fully engaged with Neurath’s challenge, and what all this may tell us (...) about the compatibility of their philosophical projects. (shrink)
The Cartesian thesis that some justifications are infallible faces a gradation puzzle. On the one hand, infallible justification tolerates absolutely no possibility for error. On the other hand, infallible justifications can vary in evidential force: e.g. two persons can both be infallible regarding their pains while the one with stronger pain is nevertheless more justified. However, if a type of justification is gradable in strength, why can it always be absolute? This paper explores the potential of this gradation challenge by (...) rejecting Fumerton's recent ‘semantic decision' solution. On Fumerton's suggestion, the putative gradation of infallible justifications is essentially semantic. It concerns only how we use the relevant term but not how well we perceive the truth. Regardless of its intuitive appeal, Fumerton's solution does not cover all the related situations. There is an irreducibly epistemic sense in which infallible justifications vary in degrees. (shrink)
Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology is first and foremost a science of the structures of consciousness. Since it is intended to yield eidetic, i. e., a priori insights, it is often assumed that transcendental phenomenology and the natural sciences are totally detached from each other such that phenomenological investigations cannot possibly benefit from empirical evidence. The aim of this paper is to show that a beneficial relationship is possible. To be more precise, I will show how Husserl’s a priori investigations on consciousness (...) can be supplemented by research in experimental psychology in order to tackle fundamental questions in epistemology. Our result will be a phenomenological conception of experiential justification that is in accordance with and supported by empirical phenomena such as perceptual learning and the phenomenon of blindsight. Finally, I shall shed light on the systematic limits of empirical research. (shrink)
Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" begins with an argument against sense-datum epistemology. There is some question about the validity of this attack, stemming in part from the assumption that Sellars is concerned with epistemic foundationalism. This paper recontextualizes Sellars's argument in two ways: by showing how the argument of EPM relates to Sellars's 1940s work, which does not concern foundationalism at all; and by considering the view of H.H. Price, Sellars's teacher at Oxford and the only classical (...) datum theorist to receive substantive comment in EPM. Timm Triplett has claimed that Sellars's discussion simply begs the question against Price, but this depends on the mistaken assumption that Sellars's concern is with foundationalism. On the contrary, Sellars's argument concerns the assumption that the innate capacity for sensory experience counts as "thinking in presence" in the way needed for empiricist accounts of content acquisition. Price's distinction between noticing universals and being aware of them encapsulates the tensions empiricists face here. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In this chapter I argue that Sellars’s philosophy was deeply pragmatist both in its motivation and in its content, whether considered conceptually, historically, or in his own estimation, and that this is the case even in the important respects in which his views differ from most pragmatists. However, this assessment has been rejected by many recent pragmatists, with “classicalist” pragmatists frequently objecting to Sellars’s analytic-pragmatist privileging of language at the alleged expense of experience, while many analytic pragmatists themselves emphasize (...) that Sellars’s philosophy arguably runs against the grain of pragmatism in central respects, with Brandom for instance recently remarking that “Sellars never explicitly identified himself with pragmatism.” Part I explores the classical pragmatist influences on the development of Sellars’s philosophy, with reference to aspects of the intellectual background in which those views formed. Part II then outlines more abstractly some of the enduring pragmatist themes in Sellars’s philosophy, including his conceptions of the myth of the given, the space of reasons, and his normative-inferentialist theory of meaning. I conclude in Part III with Sellars’s views on truth and “picturing,” which present a complex case for the question of “how pragmatist” Sellars’s views both were and ought to be. (shrink)
During the 1930s, while both movements were fleeing from persecution by the Nazis, the Vienna Circle and the Frankfurt School planned to collaborate. The plan failed, and in its stead Horkheimer published a critique of the Vienna Circle in “The Latest Attack on Metaphysics” (written in collaboration with Adorno, though he is not credited as an author). This paper will analyse Horkheimer’s (and Adorno’s) article, and the ensuing dialogue with Neurath. The Frankfurt School’s critical stance towards the Vienna Circle can (...) be traced back to Adorno’s earlier objections to the ‘positivist’ myth of the given. In response to Carnap’s attack on Heidegger, Horkheimer (and Adorno) criticized both metaphysics and its ‘scientistic’ overcoming. Their critique employs a number of overgeneralisations about ‘logical positivism’. Neurath’s unpublished reply proposes corrections to the Frankfurt School’s portrayal of ‘positivism’, pointing towards a partly conciliatory direction within the framework of Unified Science. The attempted collaboration between the Vienna Circle and the Frankfurt School ended when Horkheimer refused to publish Neurath's reply to his article in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. Horkheimer subsequently made anti-positivism a central concern for critical theory, setting the tone of subsequent polemics in the Positivismusstreit of the 1960s. (shrink)
Charles Travis has developed a distinction between “the historical” and “the conceptual”, which underlies his influential contributions to the philosophy of language and perception. The distinction is based on the observation that there are, for any thought, indefinitely many different circumstances that would render it true. The generality of thoughts and concepts contrasts with the particularity of the sensible world. I challenge the assumption that what exhibits such generality cannot belong to the sensible world. I also defend a version of (...) the claim that perception involves the exercise of conceptual capacities. (shrink)
This article aims to show why Sellars' critique of epistemic givenness has proven so apt in characterizing the philosophical problems that confront the project of Dignaga and Dharmakirti -- problem that result from the etent to whih these buddhists valorized "non-conceptual awareness.
Foundationalism about intentionality parallels foundationalism about epistemic justification. Reassessing Sellars’s attack on the Myth of the Given, the author argues that both views are inadequate, and for similar reasons. She explores the relation between meaning and knowledge, develops a new argument against the Given, and sketches how Sellars and Carnap perform the linguistic turn differently. -/- Wie ist Wissen begründet? Wie bezieht sich Geist auf die Welt? Nach der hier ausgearbeiteten neuen Interpretation von Wilfrid Sellars’ Kritik am „Mythos des Gegebenen“ (...) gehören beide Fragen zusammen. Dieses Buch möchte zeigen, dass sich fundamentalistische Antworten auf beide Fragen der Idee des Gegebenen bedienen, eine gemeinsame Struktur besitzen und aus den gleichen Gründen zurückzuweisen sind. Die Autorin vertritt eine weite Lesart des Mythos vom Gegebenen und entwickelt im Ausgang von Sellars ein neues Argument gegen das Gegebene. Auch diskutiert sie mit Sellars’ Theorie sprachlicher Bedeutung eine alternative Antwort auf die Frage nach der Beziehung zwischen Geist und Welt. (shrink)
In Mind and World, John McDowell provided an influential account of how perceptual experience makes knowledge of the world possible. He recommended a view he called “conceptualism”, according to which concepts are intimately involved in perception and there is no non‐conceptual content. In response to criticisms of this view (especially those from Charles Travis), McDowell has more recently proposed a revised account that distinguishes between two kinds of representation: the passive non‐propositional contents of perceptual experience – what he now calls (...) “intuitional content” – and the propositional contents of judgment – what he now calls “discursive content.” In this paper, I criticize McDowell's account of intuitional content. I argue that he equivocates between two different notions of intuitional content. These views propose different, and incompatible, ways of understanding how a perceiver makes a judgment based on perceptual experience. This is because these two views result from an underlying indeterminacy as to what, if anything, McDowell now means by “conceptual” when he makes claims that intuitional content is conceptual. (shrink)
The goal of the present text is to analyze some aspects of Husserl’s own phenomenology against the backdrop of the quite famous or infamous critique of the “Myth of the Given” proposed by the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars in his Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. Indeed, whereas Sellars’ volume is usually deemed the source of what has been recently referred to as the “Hegelian Renaissance” characterizing analytic philosophy, Husserl and his transcendental phenomenology are on the contrary seen as the (...) very expression of a new “form” of “Cartesianism.” Now, after a quick discussion of Sellars’ “diagnosis” of the Myth of the Given, the present essay elaborates on the general “Hegelian” character of his argumentations ; finally, an analysis of Husserl’s alleged Cartesianism in the late text known as Cartesian Meditations will be provided bearing upon the notions of “evidence” and “synthesis.” As we firmly believe, our remarks will show not only that Husserl does not at all fall prey to the “Myth,” but also that his understanding of the concept of reason can help us avoid some of the implications directly flowing from Sellars’ position. (shrink)
This chapter suggests that Sellars' account of subjectivity as socially constructed, and hence conceptual at its illusory roots, presents a crisp and compelling perspective on cognitive life that captures Buddhist conceptions of transformative non-duality.
The given is the state of a mind in its primary engagement with the world. A satisfactory epistemology—one, it turns out, that is foundationalist and includes a naïve realist view of perception—requires a certain account of the given. Moreover, knowledge based on the given requires both a particular view of the world itself and a heterodox account of judgment. These admittedly controversial claims are supported by basic ontological considerations. I begin, then, with two contradictory views of the world per se (...) and the structure one experiences. I draw out the consequences of these two views for what intentionality is. The two views yield incompatible accounts of the given. The definitive spontaneity of the one account, and passivity of the other, can be understood in terms of the structure (or lack thereof) in the given. In defense of the claim that a structured given is not an apt epistemic basis, I examine an attempt to found an epistemology on such an account in light of the so-called myth of the given. I maintain that the given, if it is to provide some justification for taking the world to be a particular way, must be unstructured. To support this, I first discuss a significant problem with traditional foundationalism. I then argue that a satisfactory (foundationalist) epistemology requires the rejection of the orthodox propositional view of judgment in favor of a non-propositional, reistic view. (shrink)
This chapter looks at Dignaga's insistence on the non--conceptuality of perceptual experience in the light of Sellars' critique of the myth of the given as well as his other philosophical committments.
The chapter offers a sustained comparison between American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars and Buddhist philosopher Dignaga and argues that while their views are prima facie inconsistent with one another, there are important areas of agreement worthy of exploration.
In the paragraphs of the Encyclopedia (1830) dedicated to the «Third position of thought towards objectivity» Hegel critically examines Jacobi’s ‘immediate knowing’. My aim is to reconstruct the main arguments of these paragraphs, still little studied today, while trying to shed light on three issues: (a) the relevance given here to Jacobi’s philosophy; (b) the problems that arise within the epistemological models of immediacy; (c) the passage from the analysis of immediate knowing to the speculative thinking of the Logic.
This is the introductory essay to the collection of essays: 'Acquaintance: New Essays' (eds. Knowles & Raleigh, forthcoming, OUP). In this essay I provide some historical background to the concept of acquaintance. I examine various Russellian theses about acquaintance that contemporary acquaintance theorists may wish to reject. I consider a number of questions that acquaintance theorists face. I provide a survey of current debates in philosophy where acquaintance has recently been invoked. And I also provide brief summaries of the other (...) essays in this volume. (shrink)
This essay is a critical assessment of Sellars' interpretation and criticism of Descartes. It argues that Sellars made several mistakes in his view of Descartes, although the general thrust of his critique is sound.
This chapter explores the relation between Sellars and Carnap by focusing on Sellars’s reception of Carnap’s Logical Syntax of Language. It claims that Carnap’s book was an important source of inspiration for Sellars. He saw promise in some of Carnap’s ideas to further a theory of meaning free of the Myth of the Given, while objecting that Carnap neglects the normativity of meaning. It is argued that this neglect leads to tensions internal to Carnap’s system. Three problems are formulated which (...) arise for any theory of meaning compatible with Carnap’s syntax. The remedy for these problems lies in a normative account of meaning. (shrink)
I defend the thesis that most or all perceptual experiences are infused with imaginative contributions. While the idea is not new, it has few supporters. I begin by developing a framework for the underlying debate. Central to that framework is the claim that a perceptual experience is infused with imagination if and only if there are self-generated contributions to that experience that have ampliative effect on its phenomenal and directed elements. Self-generated ingredients to experience are produced by the subject as (...) opposed to being received from the world. Some form of stored content is an obvious starting point. Ampliative effects are aspects of perceptual experience that outstrip the content the senses get from the world. This conceptual framework is applied to three case studies: object-sameness and object-kind recognition (section 2), memory colour (section 3), and perceptual constancy and amodal completion (section 4). If the three cases and my overall analysis are accepted (a substantive if), then we have a forceful inductive argument for perception being infused with imagination. (shrink)
This paper begins with a Davidsonian puzzle in the epistemology of perception and introduces two solutions to that puzzle: the Truth-Maker View (TMV) and the Content Model. The paper goes on to elaborate (TMV), elements of which can be found in the work of Kalderon (2011) and Brewer (2011). The central tenant of (TMV) is the claim that one's reason for one's perceptual belief should, in all cases, be identified with some item one perceives which makes the proposition believed true. (...) I defend an argument against (TMV) which appeals to (a) the claim that the reason for which one believes should always to be identified with the explanans of the rationalising explanation to which one's belief is subject and (b) the claim that the explanantia of rationalising explanations must be identified with truths. I finish by replying to two objections to the argument. (shrink)
What are the Objects of Perception? Ernst Cassirer’s Response to Analytic Theories of Perception. On the basis of its third volume, the Phenomenology of Knowledge (1929), Cassirer’s principal work, the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923-29), can be read as a phenomenology of perception. That is to say, Cassirer not only starts from the fact of multiple forms of cultural expression to reconstruct their transcendental conditions of objectification, but at once to trace their underlying forms of perceptive subjectivity. Hence, a holistic (...) theory of subjective and objective spirit, to which Cassirer’s philosophy boils down, moves between exactly those two poles of perception and cultural expression. Starting from this interpretation, the article asks for the possibility to contribute to criticism towards recent theories of perception within the tradition of analytic philosophy. At the heart of things is the question: what should we actually conceive as the objects of perception? Inmost of its debates, analytic philosophy finds itself in the stranglehold of an internalism-externalism- dichotomy, that rests upon an unsettled understanding of objectivity. By contrast, Cassirer’s understanding of objectivity as objectification allows us to reformulate the question of the objects of perception, and hence to undermine the above dichotomy. The main points of reference of the critical examination are Peter Strawson’s Perception and its Objects (1979) and Tim Crane’s What is the Problem of Perception (2005). It will be shown that the foundation of Cassirer’s theory of perception, the distinction between perception of things and perception of expression, provides exactly the critical capability to move on from Crane’s contemporary diagnosed unsatisfactory alternative between disjunctivism and intentionalism which amounts to a new version of the controversy between direct realism and sense-data-theories in the twentieth century. Cassirer’s theory enables one to reconcile the directedness of perception with the representational capacities of the human mind. (shrink)
Whereas Charles Peirce’s pragmatist account of truth has been much discussed, his theory of perception still offers a rich mine of insights. Peirce presented a ‘two-ply’ view of perception, which combines an entirely precognitive ‘percept’ with a ‘perceptual judgment’ that is located in the space of reasons. Having previously argued that Peirce outdoes Robert Brandom in achieving a hyper-inferentialism (“Making it Explicit and Clear”, APQ, 2008), I now wish to examine his philosophy in the light of inferentialism’s ‘original fount’ – (...) Wilfrid Sellars. Does Peirce’s percept commit him to the Myth of the Given? I argue that it does not, because although the percept is understood as nonepistemic, it is not understood to justify the perceptual judgment. Rather, the perceptual judgement indexes the percept. I explain this original view, then argue that Peirce and Sellars actually have a great deal in common in their rare diachronically mediated yet at the same time direct perceptual realism, and the ‘critical commonsensist’ epistemology to which it gives rise. (shrink)
Our senses provide us with information about the world, but what exactly do they tell us? I argue that in order to optimally respond to sensory stimulations, an agent’s doxastic space may have an extra, “imaginary” dimension of possibility; perceptual experiences confer certainty on propositions in this dimension. To some extent, the resulting picture vindicates the old-fashioned empiricist idea that all empirical knowledge is based on a solid foundation of sense-datum propositions, but it avoids most of the problems traditionally associated (...) with that idea. The proposal might also explain why experiences appear to have a non-physical phenomenal character, even if the world is entirely physical. (shrink)
Though Wilfrid Sellars portrayed himself as a latter-day Kantian, I argue here that he was at least as much a Hegelian. Several themes Sellars shares with Hegel are investigated: the sociality and normativity of the intentional, categorial change, the rejection of the given, and especially their denial of an unknowable thing-in-itself. They are also united by an emphasis on the unity of things—the belief that things do “hang together.” Hegel’s unity is idealist; Sellars’ is physicalist; the differences are substantial, but (...) so are the resonances. (shrink)
In his well-known Mind and World and in line with Wilfrid Sellars (1991) or “that great foe of ‘immediacy’” (ibid., 127) Hegel, McDowell claims that “when Evans argues that judgments of experience are based on non-conceptual content, he is falling into a version of the Myth of the Given” (1996, 114). In this talk and on the basis of a Berkeleyio-Kantian ‘realist idealist’ world view (sect. 1) and an explication of Kant’s concept of the “given manifold” (CPR, e.g. B138; sect. (...) 2), I will argue that Kant and Evans (1982, chs. 5.1–5.2) were indeed mistaken in their versions of the given (sect. 3), but that Sellars and his student McDowell were even more mistaken (sects. 4–5) and that, in the end, there would appear to be a non-conceptual and (thus) non-propositional and essentially (Kantio-)Schopenhauerian given (1816, ch. 1) in perceptual experience from which we unconsciously (Helmholtz 1867, ch. 26) and automatically infer to our first perceptual beliefs. (shrink)
Is property-awareness constituted by representation or not? If it were, merely being aware of the qualities of physical objects would involve being in a representational state. This would have considerable implications for a prominent view of the nature of successful perceptual experiences. According to naïve realism, any such experience—or more specifically its character—is fundamentally a relation of awareness to concrete items in the environment. Naïve realists take their view to be a genuine alternative to representationalism, the view on which the (...) character of such experiences is constituted by representation. But naïve realists must admit qualities or property instances as items of awareness if they are to remain wedded to common sense, and the nature of property-awareness may smuggle constitutive representation into the naïve realist account of character. I argue that whether property-awareness involves representation, and consequently whether naïve realism is distinct from representationalism or not, depends on what qualities are fundamentally. On universalist and nominalist accounts, property-awareness turns out to involve representation. Not so under tropism. (shrink)
One important strand of Sellars’s attack on classical foundationalism from Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind is his thesis about the priority of is-talk over looks-talk. This thesis has been criticized extensively in recent years, and classical foundationalism has found several contemporary defenders. I revisit Sellars’s thesis and argue that is-talk is epistemically prior to looks-talk in a way that undermines classical foundationalism. The classical foundationalist claims that epistemic foundations are constituted by the agent’s set of looks-judgments. However, I argue (...) that only a subset of these looks-judgments are even candidates to serve as foundations for the agent’s empirical knowledge, and membership in this subset is determined by the agent’s theory of how the world is. Thus, the epistemic force of the looks-judgments in this subset is dependent on the agent’s theory of how the world is. This means that these looks-judgments aren’t foundational at all, as the agent’s theory of how the world is is epistemically is prior to the epistemic status of these looks-judgments. This is the sense in which judgments about how the world is are epistemically prior to judgments about how things look. This conclusion allows concrete elaboration of another of Sellars’s well-know claims: “I do wish to insist that the metaphor of ‘foundation’ is misleading in that it keeps us from seeing that if there is a logical dimension in which other empirical propositions rest on observation reports, there is another logical dimension in which the latter rest on the former”. (shrink)
Neopragmatism has been accused of having ‘an experience problem’. This paper begins by outlining Hume's understanding of perception according to which ideas are copies of impressions thought to constitute a direct confrontation with reality. This understanding is contrasted with Peirce's theory of perception according to which percepts give rise to perceptual judgments which do not copy but index the percept (just as a weather-cock indicates the direction of the wind). Percept and perceptual judgment thereby mutually inform and correct one another, (...) as the perceiver develops mental habits of interpreting their surroundings, so that, in this theory of perception, as Peirce puts it: “[n]othing at all…is absolutely confrontitional”. Paul Redding has argued that Hegel’s “idealist understanding of logical form” ran deeper than Kant’s in recognising that Mind is essentially embodied and located, and therefore perspectival. Peirce’s understanding arguably dives deeper still in distributing across the space of reasons (and thus Being) not just Mind’s characteristic features of embodiedness and locatedness, but also its infinite corrigibility. (shrink)
Walking through the supermarket, I see the avocados. I know they are avocados. Similarly, if you see a pumpkin on my office desk, you can know it’s a pumpkin from its looks. The phenomenology in such cases is that of “just seeing” that such and such. This phenomenology might suggest that the knowledge gained is immediate. This paper argues, to the contrary, that in these target cases, the knowledge is mediate, depending as it does on one’s knowledge of what the (...) relevant kind of thing looks like. To make the case requires examining the nature of knowing what Fs look like. Is such knowledge to be understood as knowledge of a fact, or rather as a kind of ability? From the conclusion that the knowledge in the target cases is not immediate, the paper concludes that perception does not afford us immediate knowledge concerning objects’ kinds. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Marc Champagne leveled an argument against what Wilfrid Sellars dubbed “the Myth of the Given.” Champagne contends that what is given in observation in the form of a sensation must be able to both cause and justify propositionally structured beliefs. He argues for this claim by attempting to show that one cannot decide which of two equally valid chains of inference is sound without appeal to what is given in experience. In this note, (...) I show that while this argument is sound, the conclusion he draws is far too strong. Champagne’s argument shows only that our empirical beliefs are determined through experience. It does not license the stronger claim that, in order for us to have empirical knowledge, bare sensations must be able to justify beliefs. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend an account of how perceptual experience can bear rational relation to our empirical thought. In the first part, I elaborate two claims that are central for the justificational role of perceptual experience, namely, the claim that perception and belief share the same kind of content, and the claim that perception is independent from belief. At first sight, these claims seem not to be compatible, since the first one seems to require the truth of content conceptualism, (...) while the second one seems to require its falsity. In the second part, based on Alva Noë's actionist theory of perception, I argue in favor of a less intellectualist interpretation of the first claim, uncommitted to content conceptualism, and then I show how it can be reconciled with the second claim. Finally, I explain how perception holds rational relationships with our empirical thought through the exercise of observational concepts. These concepts link what I propose to call 'space of actions' to the logical space of reasons. (shrink)
Most inferentialists hope to bypass givenness by tracking the conditionals claimants are implicitly committed to. I argue that this approach is underdetermined because one can always construct parallel trees of conditionals. I illustrate this using the Müller-Lyer illusion and touching a table. In the former case, the lines are either even or uneven; in the latter case, a moving hand will either sweep through or be halted. For each possibility, we can rationally foresee consequents. However, I argue that, until and (...) unless we benefit from what is given in experience, we cannot know whether to affirm the antecedents of those conditionals. (shrink)