Sellars Week 7 “Abstract Entities” Plan
Our aim: Kant [A 314?] and Hegel on understanding a philosopher better than he
“We know so much more than the dead authors.”
they are what we know.”
(From “Tradition and the Individual Talent”).
The 4 years (1959-1963) during which Sellars did this work, at the end of the magical
Contemporary work on universals is mostly downstream from David Armstrong’s 1978
Universals and Scientific Realism
and his 1989
Universals: An Opinionated Introduction
which does not discuss Sellars’s views (he is mentioned once, in passing).
trope theory reaches its acme with Mormann’s group in Munich, in their use of mathematical
sheaf theory to formulate trope theory.
(See John Bacon’s article in the Stanford
Sellars and his views are, as far as I can see, totally ignored in the
An interesting enterprise would be to bring his apparatus to bear
on the issues of universals as treated in contemporary analytic metaphysics.
I) Setting; II) Abstraction; III) Existence; IV) Nominalism and Nominalization.
Can think of the
WS is working in in four parts (1,2,3,4), putting him in a position
do things the medieval could not do
in the hundreds of years they devoted to this
overarching idea: Carnap’s from
The Logical Syntax of Language
German, 1937 in English): to say that triangularity is a property is a way of saying in the
material mode, the object language, what is said more perspicuously in the formal mode,
in the metalanguage, as “‘triangularity’ is a monadic predicate.”
Sellars will develop this
, but elsewhere about
modality, logic, and—implicitly—normativity) a view with affinities to second-wave
metaethical expressivism (an affinity which WS was not in a position to appreciate), but
with the distinctive Carnapian metalinguistic turn that makes it quite different from
affective or attitudinal expressivism.
great challenges or objections that that Carnapian idea faces:
Statements about universals don’t mention linguistic expressions;
Just trade nonlinguistic universals for linguistic universals, so instead of a
nominalism one gets a kind of linguistic idealism.
constructions Sellars will use to work out the idea, deal with the challenges,
and address all the potentially problematic contexts (see (3) below):
Distributive singular terms.
kinds of contexts that must be addressed, each of which gives some reason to
think we are committed to the existence of nonlinguistic universals (See the outline of
from Week 6):
Ordinary predications (discussed in
) (If ‘Fa’ is perspicuously rendered as ‘a