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Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and RealismEssays on Wilfrid Sellars$
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Willem A. deVries

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573301

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573301.001.0001

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Why Is Sellars's Essay Called “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”?

Why Is Sellars's Essay Called “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”?

(p.9) 1 Why Is Sellars's Essay Called “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”?
Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism

John McDowell

Oxford University Press

‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’ (EPM) is sometimes read as attacking empiricism in general. But Sellars's announced target is traditional empiricism. In traditional empiricism, experience yields knowledge in a way that does not presuppose other empirical knowledge, so that the knowledge provided by experience can serve as foundations, in a straightforward sense, for other empirical knowledge. To accept this conception is to fall into a form of the Myth of the Given. In EPM Sellars works out a different conception of experience, according to which it is a kind of inner episode that, in the best kind of case, yields knowledge, but in a way that presupposes other empirical knowledge. The knowledge provided by experience can still serve as foundations for other empirical knowledge, but now only in a nuanced sense. The chapter concludes that so far from rejecting empiricism altogether, EPM rehabilitates empiricism, but in a non-traditional form.

Keywords:   empirical knowledge, empiricism, EPM, experience, foundations, inner episodes, Wilfrid Sellars, Myth of the Given

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