Exorcising the Myth of the Given: the idea of doxasticism

Synthese 200 (4):1-32 (2022)
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Abstract

We can distinguish two senses of the Given, the nonconceptual and the non-doxastic. The idea of the nonconceptual Given is the target of Sellars’s severe attack on the Myth of the Given, which paves the way for McDowell’s conceptualism, while the idea of the non-doxastic Given is largely neglected. The main target of the present paper is the non-doxastic Given. I first reject the idea of the nonconceptual Given by debunking the false assumption that there is a systematic relation between the conceptual and the nonconceptual. I then propose a constitutive understanding of experience and concept, which at once challenges the idea of the non-doxastic Given. Unlike the more familiar Davidsonian challenge, which questions the transition from the non-doxastic to the doxastic, the constitutive understanding implies that the idea of the non-doxastic Given endangers the very possibility of having thought about the world. I urge an exorcism of the Myth of the Given by proposing doxasticism, the view that experience is essentially a doxastic attitude towards that which is experienced.

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Refeng Tang
Beijing Normal University

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A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. M. Armstrong - 1968 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Ted Honderich.
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Meditations on First Philosophy.René Descartes - 1984 [1641] - Ann Arbor: Caravan Books. Edited by Stanley Tweyman.

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