Not so simple powers

In James Conant & Jesse M. Mulder (eds.), Reading Rödl: on Self-consciousness and objectivity. New York, NY: Routledge (2023)
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This chapter inquires into an initially rather startling claim Sebastian Rödl makes in his Self-Consciousness and Objectivity (SC&O): that the power of judgment is not a power among other powers, but rather “the power” (p. 60). It traces Rödl’s sophisticated understanding of powers, as presented in SC&O, in terms of a distinction between “simple powers”, such as a pear tree’s power to blossom, on the one hand, and “self-conscious powers”, such as the power of judgment, on the other. Reflection on related distinctions that SC&O makes between forms of explanation and forms of necessity yields the insight that these two kinds of power cannot be kept apart. The chapter discusses various attempts to bring them together in a satisfactory way and concludes with a proposal in which the idea of givenness plays a central role, in such a way that the initially startling claim can be seen to make sense.



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Jesse M. Mulder
Utrecht University

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