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Wilfrid Sellars

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  • Maurice McCarthy
    Hi Does anyone know of a anthroposophist writing an answer to Sellars Myth of the Given: Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind ?
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 10, 2005
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      Hi

      Does anyone know of a anthroposophist writing an answer to Sellars' 'Myth of the Given: Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind'? www.ditext.com/sellars/epm.html

      Sellars attack on the very idea of givenness, if successful, leads directly to the irrelevance of the theory of knowledge. He has had a subliminal but pervasive effect since this work was written in 1956. Some of his students have been and are prominent philosophers in the analytic tradition: Rorty, Brandom, the late Hector-Neri Castaneda and the champion of eliminative materialism, Paul Churchland - to name a few. Dennett too concedes a great debt.

      If there is nothing given then there is nothing to be known. Knowledge can only be a matter of pragmatics and never of ultimate questions. It is a dead end. In epm Sellars writes a fictional 'Myth of Jones'. It gives a plausible account of how thinking might arise from language, rather than vice versa as all previous philosophy has thought.

      The ruthless extension of Sellars view is that colour, feelings and all qualities are illusions and once we understand this then we will be more quiet and placid. The world will be better off. It is the death of the soul. This is Churchland's eliminativism. He wants to eliminate all quality from life. Both he and his wife Patricia - a philosopher of the first class herself - are very kind and considerate people. Paul's book 'Consciousness and Matter' ~1988 is so sympathetic to all views approaching an understanding of consciousness that I highly recommend it.

      The Myth of the Given is supposed to be Sellars most accessible and most read work but is still comparatively little read. Rorty claims it is one of the 3 works that from 1950-1970 completely altered the course of analytic philosophy away from the positivists. (The others were Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism 1954 and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations 1951.) Nevertheless it is also the epitome of Sellars entire way of thinking.

      Best
      Maurice
    • Joel Wendt
      Dear Maurice, I haven t read these particular writers, but over the years I ve been directed at a number of websites of modern philosophers, whose basic
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 11, 2005
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        Dear Maurice,

        I haven't read these particular writers, but over the years I've
        been directed at a number of websites of modern philosophers, whose
        basic conclusions would be seen as counter to Steiner in some fashion.

        In all cases (none of which I remember at present), the error of
        thought arises almost within the first couple of sentences, and usually
        takes the form of an unadmited assumption or an omited observation.
        Sometimes these problems (errors) are buried in the language conventions
        used.

        The result is that the logic slips off to the side almost
        immediately and then from that point is so internally consistent that it
        seems to be a valid argument. So it can't really be dealt with in its
        fully developed form, but only by going to the most basic operational
        statements from which the thinking then precedes.

        Its sort of like shooting an arrow at a far away unseen target. If
        you are off just the slightest in the beginning, you don't hit the
        target (the truth), but you will eventually hit something.

        warm regards,
        joel

        Maurice McCarthy wrote:

        >Hi
        >
        >Does anyone know of a anthroposophist writing an answer to Sellars' 'Myth of the Given: Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind'? www.ditext.com/sellars/epm.html
        >
        >Sellars attack on the very idea of givenness, if successful, leads directly to the irrelevance of the theory of knowledge. He has had a subliminal but pervasive effect since this work was written in 1956. Some of his students have been and are prominent philosophers in the analytic tradition: Rorty, Brandom, the late Hector-Neri Castaneda and the champion of eliminative materialism, Paul Churchland - to name a few. Dennett too concedes a great debt.
        >
        >If there is nothing given then there is nothing to be known. Knowledge can only be a matter of pragmatics and never of ultimate questions. It is a dead end. In epm Sellars writes a fictional 'Myth of Jones'. It gives a plausible account of how thinking might arise from language, rather than vice versa as all previous philosophy has thought.
        >
        >The ruthless extension of Sellars view is that colour, feelings and all qualities are illusions and once we understand this then we will be more quiet and placid. The world will be better off. It is the death of the soul. This is Churchland's eliminativism. He wants to eliminate all quality from life. Both he and his wife Patricia - a philosopher of the first class herself - are very kind and considerate people. Paul's book 'Consciousness and Matter' ~1988 is so sympathetic to all views approaching an understanding of consciousness that I highly recommend it.
        >
        >The Myth of the Given is supposed to be Sellars most accessible and most read work but is still comparatively little read. Rorty claims it is one of the 3 works that from 1950-1970 completely altered the course of analytic philosophy away from the positivists. (The others were Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism 1954 and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations 1951.) Nevertheless it is also the epitome of Sellars entire way of thinking.
        >
        >Best
        >Maurice
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        >Yahoo! Groups Links
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      • Maurice McCarthy
        Thanks for the encouragement Joel. I reckon you are right in what you are saying but the difficulty I ve had when I ve tried to make reply is that picking out
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 12, 2005
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          Thanks for the encouragement Joel.

          I reckon you are right in what you are saying but the difficulty I've had when I've tried to make reply is that picking out an early error without addressing the rest I've ended up being accused of superficiality. This, I think, is justified in my case. The analytic style I find tediously mincing in its dissection of words and parts of words but to put some light into this mire I think I'm going to have to sink into it.

          I mentioned the language issue especially because when I say that words are only labels for thought they switch off. I get no responses. I get the impression that opinion is too ignorant for anyone to to have the time to put me right. Or at least that is how they seem to feel.

          Best Wishes
          Maurice




          On Fri, Nov 11, 2005 at 12:56:13PM -0700 or thereabouts, Joel Wendt wrote:
          > Dear Maurice,
          >
          > I haven't read these particular writers, but over the years I've
          > been directed at a number of websites of modern philosophers, whose
          > basic conclusions would be seen as counter to Steiner in some fashion.
          >
          > In all cases (none of which I remember at present), the error of
          > thought arises almost within the first couple of sentences, and usually
          > takes the form of an unadmited assumption or an omited observation.
          > Sometimes these problems (errors) are buried in the language conventions
          > used.
          >
          > The result is that the logic slips off to the side almost
          > immediately and then from that point is so internally consistent that it
          > seems to be a valid argument. So it can't really be dealt with in its
          > fully developed form, but only by going to the most basic operational
          > statements from which the thinking then precedes.
          >
          > Its sort of like shooting an arrow at a far away unseen target. If
          > you are off just the slightest in the beginning, you don't hit the
          > target (the truth), but you will eventually hit something.
          >
          > warm regards,
          > joel
          >
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