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Sellars the Post-Kantian?

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In Kant's "fact of reason," there is an apparent paradox of our being subject to laws of which we must regard ourselves as the author, while at the same time being normatively bound by the same laws that we cannot see ourselves as authoring. Working out the implications of this apparent paradox generated much of the response to Kant in post-Kantian idealism. Wilfrid Sellars notes the same paradox when he speaks of the "paradox of man's encounter with himself" in "Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man." Like some of the idealists, Sellars thus opted for "two track" system of philosophy that combines the two tracks in a metaphor of "stereoscopic vision." This paper argues that understanding Sellars's own thought in terms of the issues that formed the dynamic of post-Kantian philosophy in Germany puts us in a better position to understand why Sellars's own conception of experience and of the unreality of the manifest image is not completely consistent with the argumentative direction of his thought. Understanding Sellars in this way helps us understand the limits of post-Kantian idealism just as understanding the dynamic of post-Kantian idealism gives us a more nuanced version of Sellars's conception of experience.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007


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