SELLARSIAN PERSPECTIVES ON PERCEPTION AND NON-CONCEPTUAL CONTENT

in The Self-Correcting Enterprise
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Abstract

I argue that a Sellarsian approach to experience allows one to take seriously the thought that there is something given to us in perception without denying that we can only be conscious of conceptually structured content. I argue against the traditional empiricist reading of Sellars, according to which sensations are understood as epistemically graspable prior to concrete propositional representations, by showing that it is unclear on such a view why sensations are not just the given as Sellars so famously criticizes it. I suggest an alternative transcendental reading, according to which there are two sides to the subject matter of perceptual judgments: The matter given in perception (sensation), and its form (intuition). I present an account of sensations and intuitions on which it is unproblematic to see sensations as what is given in perception: They are not intelligible independently of their role as the matter of intuitions, the content of which is accessible to us only in the context of a judgment.