Thought, Freedom, and Embodiment in Kant and Sellars

In Sellars and Contemporary Philosophy, edited by David Pereplyotchik and Deborah Barnbaum, Studies in American Philosophy Series (London: Routledge), pp. 15–35. ISBN 9781138670624. London and New York: pp. 15–35 (2017)
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ABSTRACT: Sellars once remarked on the “astonishing extent to which in ethics as well as in epistemology and metaphysics the fundamental themes of Kant’s philosophy contain the truth of the variations we now hear on every side” (SM x). Also astonishing was Sellars’ 1970 Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association (APA), which borrowed its title from the phrase in Kant’s Paralogisms, “...this I or he or it (the thing) which thinks...” (B404). In its compact twenty-five pages Sellars managed to sketch novel yet plausible reconstructions of central aspects of Kant’s views on self-knowledge, persons, freedom, and morality, along the way suggesting how all of those Kantian views could plausibly be rendered consistent with a naturalistic ontology. In this chapter I focus on Sellars’ APA address as an occasion for reflection on how both Kant and Sellars offer insights into how we ought best to conceive the nature of and the relationships between our thinking selves, our practical agency, and our entirely natural, material embodiment.

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James O'Shea
University College Dublin


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