Sellars Intro Plan
On the 20
anniversary of his death in 1989
Wilfrid Sellars is the greatest American philosopher of the 20
way, Brits are out of contention (Russell etc.), as are Germans and Austrians (Wittgenstein,
Competitors might be:
He was essentially alone in his generation (and among the contestants above) in his deep
knowledge of and the importance he attached to the
spirit is moving his way.
He was essentially alone in his generation (and among the contestants above) in his
ambitions (“the synoptic vision”).
Davidson and Lewis ended up
systematic philosophers, but it was a surprise to them that things evolved that way.
same could be said of Searle, and maybe Quine.)
Again, there is at least hope that Sellars
was ahead of his time in this respect.
His aim was, he said, “to move analytic philosophy from its Humean into its Kantian
This is a move beyond
(as it were, from logical
Rawls, too, with Strawson, contributed greatly to the
Kant by the analytic tradition.
It is easy to forget that Kant was
anathema to the founders of the analytic movement.
To Russell and Moore, not to
mention later folks like Ayer and Quine, he was where the idealist rot set in.
an interesting exception—but he’s never written about Kant, and it’s a good question
what he understands of him.)
They saw, I think correctly, that one could not open the
door wide enough to let Kant in, and shut it quickly enough to keep Hegel out.
officially, and in fact, on the Kant side of the Kant/Hegel divide, but has serious Hegelian
Rorty describes me as aiming to move analytic philosophy from its incipient
Kantian to its inevitable Hegelian phase.
It is above all Sellars’s appreciation of Kant’s lesson about the essentially
character of intentionality—of mind, meaning, and rationality—that sets him apart from his
[Tell my Kant story in brief, from first Woodbridge lecture (in
Wittgenstein, too, appreciated this point, as Sellars acknowledges.
The transition to a
“Kantian phase of analytic philosophy” is the replacement of a cartesian framework with a