Beatrice Edgell’s Myth of the Given

British Journal for the History of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Wilfrid Sellars’ “myth of the given” had a momentous influence on 20th-century epistemology, putting under pressure the internalist foundationalism so prominent in early analytic philosophy. In this paper, I argue that the core themes in Sellars’ argument are anticipated in the work of the London philosopher and psychologist Beatrice Edgell (1871-1948). Indeed, in some respects Edgell’s argument against the myth of the given is even more compelling than Sellars’. The paper logically reconstructs and historically contextualizes Edgell’s line of argument, as emerging out of a critique of Russell’s epistemology, with the goal of showing that the “myth of the given” effectively predated Sellars by four decades.

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Uriah Kriegel
Rice University


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