LA Passages 09-10-28 a

LA Passages 09-10-28 a - Brandom "The Lever of...

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“The Lever of Archimedes” (1981 First Carus Lecture) Passages 1. My ultimate aim will be to formulate, more clearly than I have hitherto been able to do, the complex interplay in empirical knowledge of the two dimensions which epistemologists have sought to capture by the concepts of the given on the one hand, and of coherence on the other. [230] 2. Firth was concerned to explore the contrast between those epistemological theories which stress the “given” and those which stress “coherence.” He begins by pointing out that in the context of epistemology a “coherence theory” is either a theory of truth, or of concepts, or of justification, or some blend of these. [230] 3. When a child has an experience of the kind which it is useful to baptize by saying that “O looks red to Junior,” what is really going on is that O is causing Junior to sense redly. Junior is directly aware of this sensing redly. Therefore, he is aware of it as a sensing redly. This line of thought involves the principle If a person is directly aware of an item which has categorial status C, then the person is aware of it as having categorial status C. This principle is, perhaps, the most basic form of what I have castigated as “The Myth of the Given.” [236] [BB: What is needed would only seem to be that there were some values of C for which this is true. But to suppose there are any such Cs is to subscribe to the MoG.] 4. Thus, if Junior was originally exposed to translucent objects only , we could conceive of him as passing through a stage in which he responded to the portions of color stuff of which he was aware, e.g., cubes of pink, with some such concept as that of a cube of pink which has certain causal properties among which is that of being responsible for his experience of seeing it. Of course, when Junior’s experience subsequently broadens, and he encounters opaque objects, he is in a position to distinguish between the object he sees and what he sees of the object. At any one time one sees of an opaque object its facing surface, but not its inside or its other sides. [238-9] 5. Given these resources, the alternative to the Firthian account might be fleshed out as follows: 1. Junior has an ur-concept of volumes and expanses of red stuff. 2. Junior has an ur-concept of seeing a volume of red stuff. 3. Junior has an ur-concept of a physical object as an individuated volume of color stuff which is endowed with certain causal properties. 4. Junior has an ur-concept of seeing a volume or expanse of red stuff not only as a volume or expanse of red, but as a constituent of a physical object. 5. Junior has an ur-concept of what it is to see of a physical object a volume or expanse of red which is one of its constituents. If the constituent is the surface of an opaque object, e.g., an apple, it is the very redness of the apple. 6. Junior has an ur-concept of what it is to
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LA Passages 09-10-28 a - Brandom "The Lever of...

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