Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind," Including the Complete Text of Sellars's Essay

Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind," Including the Complete Text of Sellars's Essay

Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind," Including the Complete Text of Sellars's Essay

Knowledge, Mind, and the Given: Reading Wilfrid Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind," Including the Complete Text of Sellars's Essay

Synopsis

"This book serves three purposes, and it serves them very well. First, it patiently, accurately and comprehensively supplies the necessary information about the historical and contemporaneous ideas, views, problems and theories which constitute the conceptual setting for Sellars's theses and argumentation. Second, it provides a careful and lucid section-by-section interpretative explanation of Sellars's own principal views and claims and, crucially, undertakes to support them. And third, it offers its readers the beginnings of an engaged critical discussion of Sellars's critique of givenness and epistemological foundationalism. What is particularly impressive about this work is its marvelous clarity... a highly polished, accessible text..." -- Jay F Rosenberg, Taylor Grandy Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Excerpt

One of the authors of this book (TT) found himself, having graduated from college, in a new town seeking both a job and a place to live. When he looked for a place to live, it did not endear him to local landlords when he acknowledged that he had, as yet, no livelihood. It occurred to them to wonder whether he was the surest bet for regular and timely payment of the rent. And when he looked for a job, potential employers balked when he was able to offer no fixed address. There was the practical problem that he could offer no phone number for that sought-after phone call since he was living in a tent in the woods just outside town (this was in the days before cellular phones, which he could not, in any case, have afforded). An even more serious problem was the psychological association made by the typical potential employer between those with no fixed address and those who were least likely to remain around long enough to make even a minimal job-training period pay off for the employer.

After several depressing days, it seemed clear to TT that if only he had a place of permanent residence, it would be an easy matter to secure a job or, conversely, if only he had a job, it would be easy to secure a residence. But having neither, he could acquire neither. And it looked as though it was possible to remain stuck in this self-perpetuating catch-22 indefinitely.

Reading and trying to understand the work of Wilfrid Sellars can be like that. Encountering his work for the first time, one is presented with a web of interrelated concepts and issues, such that one feels that one could grasp what Sellars had in mind by concept A if only one had a clear grasp of what he meant by concept B, and that understanding B would in its turn be an easy matter if only one had a handle on A.

In this book, we aim to remove unnecessary impediments to the understanding of Sellars's work. Many such impediments come from Sellars's notoriously complex and often obscure style of writing. We can slow the pace down, provide background information, explain where Sellars is going well in advance of Sellars's own often much-delayed de-

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