Learning and the Necessity of Non-conceptual Content in Sellars's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind"
Abstract:For Sellars, the possibility of empirical knowledge presupposes the existence of "sense impressions" in the perceiver, i.e., non-conceptual states of perceptual consciousness. But this role for sense impressions does not implicate Sellars' account in the Myth of the Given: sense impressions do not stand in a justificatory relation to instances of perceptual knowledge; their existence is rather a condition for the possibility of the acquisition of empirical concepts. Sellars suggests that learning empirical concepts presupposes that we can remember certain past facts that we could not conceptualize at the time they obtained. And such memory presupposes, in turn, the existence of certain (past) non-conceptual sensory states that can be conceptualized.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2007