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Carl Sachs
Marymount University
  1. In Defense of Picturing; Sellars’s Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Neuroscience.Carl B. Sachs - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (4):669-689.
    I argue that Sellars’s distinction between signifying and picturing should be taken seriously by philosophers of mind, language, and cognition. I begin with interpretations of key Sellarsian texts in order to show that picturing is best understood as a theory of non-linguistic cognitive representations through which animals navigate their environments. This is distinct from the kind of discursive cognition that Sellars called ‘signifying’ and which is best understood in terms of socio-linguistic inferences. I argue that picturing is required because reflection (...)
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  2. A Cybernetic Theory of Persons: How and Why Sellars Naturalized Kant.Carl B. Sachs - 2022 - Philosophical Inquiries 10 (1).
    I argue that Sellars’s naturalization of Kant should be understood in terms of how he used behavioristic psychology and cybernetics. I first explore how Sellars used Edward Tolman’s cognitive-behavioristic psychology to naturalize Kant in the early essay “Language, Rules, and Behavior”. I then turn to Norbert Wiener’s understanding of feedback loops and circular causality. On this basis I argue that Sellars’s distinction between signifying and picturing, which he introduces in “Being and Being Known,” can be understood in terms of what (...)
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  3. Resisting the Disenchantment of Nature: McDowell and the Question of Animal Minds.Carl B. Sachs - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (2):131-147.
    Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rational animal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers of semantic content (...)
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  4.  43
    The Role of Picturing In Sellars’s Practical Philosophy.Jeremy Randel Koons & Carl B. Sachs - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Research 47:147-176.
    Picturing is a poorly understood element of Sellars’s philosophical project. We diagnose the problem with picturing as follows: on the one hand, it seems that it must be connected with action in order for it to do its job. On the other hand, the representational states of a picturing system are characterized in descriptive and seemingly static terms. How can static terms be connected with action? To solve this problem, we adopt a concept from recent work in Sellarsian metaethics: the (...)
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  5. The Shape of a Good Question: McDowell, Evolution, and Transcendental Philosophy.Carl B. Sachs - 2011 - Philosophical Forum 42 (1):61-78.
    I examine John McDowell's attitude towards naturalism in general, and evolutionary theory in particular, by distinguishing between "transcendental descriptions" and "empirical explanations". With this distinction in view we can understand why McDowell holds that there is both continuity and discontinuity between humans qua rational animals and other animals -- there is continuity with regards to empirical explanations and discontinuity with regards to transcendental descriptions. The result of this examination is a clearer assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of McDowell's contribution (...)
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  6.  88
    What Is To Be Overcome? Nietzsche, Carnap, and Modernism as the Overcoming of Metaphysic.Carl B. Sachs - 2011 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (3):303-318..
    I examine why Carnap ended his "The Overcoming of Metaphysics" with admiration for Nietzsche, and contextualize his admiration for Nietzsche within their shared commitment to 'modernism.' I show that Carnap's modernism helps explain his enthusiasm for symbolic logic and his attitude towards metaphysics. However, I also argue that Nietzsche's critique of metaphysics may also apply to Carnap's own distinction between what is essential to language and how language appears.
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  7. Discursive and Somatic Intentionality: Merleau-Ponty Contra 'McDowell or Sellars'.Carl B. Sachs - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (2):199-227.
    Here I show that Sellars’ radicalization of the Kantian distinction between concepts and intuitions is vulnerable to a challenge grounded in Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of embodiment. Sellars argues that Kant’s concept of ‘intuition’ is ambiguous between singular demonstrative phrases and sense-impressions. In light of the critique of the Myth of the Given, Sellars argues, in the ‘Myth of Jones’, that sense-impression are theoretical posits. I argue that Merleau-Ponty offers a way of understanding perceptual activity which successfully avoids both the Myth of (...)
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  8. The Acknowledgement of Transcendence: Anti-Theodicy in Adorno and Levinas.Carl B. Sachs - 2011 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (3):273-294.
    It is generally recognized that Adorno and Levinas should both be read as urging a rethinking of ethics in light of Auschwitz. This demand should be understood in terms of the acknowledgement of transcendence. A phenomenological account of the event of Auschwitz developed by Todes motivates my use of Cavell’s distinction between acknowledgement and knowledge. Both Levinas and Adorno argue that an ethically adequate acknowledgement of transcendence requires that the traditional concept of transcendence as represented in theodicy must be rejected. (...)
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  9.  73
    Rorty's Debt to Sellarsian Metaphysics.Carl B. Sachs - 2013 - Metaphilosophy 44 (5):682-707.
    Rorty regards himself as furthering the project of the Enlightenment by separating Enlightenment liberalism from Enlightenment rationalism. To do so, he rejects the very need for explicit metaphysical theorizing. Yet his commitments to naturalism, nominalism, and the irreducibility of the normative come from the metaphysics of Wilfrid Sellars. Rorty's debt to Sellars is concealed by his use of Davidsonian arguments against the scheme/content distinction and the nonsemantic concept of truth. The Davidsonian arguments are used for Deweyan ends: to advance secularization (...)
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  10.  87
    Phenomenology Vs the Myth of the Given: A Sellarsian Perspective on Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.Carl B. Sachs - 2020 - Discipline filosofiche. 30 (1):287-301.
    I argue that phenomenology should take seriously what Wilfrid Sellars calls “the Myth of the Given”. Phenomenologists have either ignored this idea or misunder-stood it. I argue that the Myth of the Given, if understood correctly, could be an objection to phenomenological method. Specifically I argue that Husserl’s static phenomenology is vulnerable to a Sellarsian criticism. However, I also show that Merleau-Ponty is not vulnerable to a Sellarsian criticism because of how he navigates the relationship between phenomenology and science. This (...)
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  11.  50
    Rorty’s Aversion to Normative Violence: The Myth of the Given and the Death of God.Carl B. Sachs - 2017 - Contemporary Pragmatism 14 (3):277-291.
    Among the deeper strata of Rorty’s philosophy is what I call his aversion to normative violence. Normative violence occurs when some specific group presents itself as having a privileged relation to reality. The alternative to normative violence is recognizing that cultural politics has priority over ontology. I trace this Rortyan idea to its origins in Nietzsche and Sellars. Rorty’s contribution is to combine Nietzsche on the death of God and Sellars on the Myth of the Given. However, I conclude with (...)
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