Analytic Kantianism: Sellars and McDowell on Sensory Consciousness

Johannes Haag


Wilfrid Sellars and John McDowell can both be read as proponents of Analytic Kantianism. However, their accounts differ in important detail. In particular, McDowell has criticized Sellars’s account of sensory consciousness in a number of papers (most notably in LFI and SC), both as a reading of Kant and on its systematic merits. The present paper offers a detailed analysis of this criticism and a defense of Sellars’s position against the background of a methodology of transcendental philosophy.

Palabras clave

Kant; Sellars; McDowell; Transcendental Philosophy; perception; intuition; judgment

Texto completo:



Kant’s works are quoted in the usual manner as after Kants gesammelte Schriften, vols. I-XXII ed. Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1902 ff., vol. XXIII ed. Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin, 1956, vols. XXIV-XXIX ed. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Berlin 1966 ff. The translation mostly follows the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, eds. P. Guyer and Allen W. Wood.

Works by Wilfrid Sellars:

BBK“Being and Being Known,” in: Sellars, W. Science, Perception and Reality. London (1963), 41-59.

EPM “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind”, in Sellars, W. Science, Perception and Reality. London (1963), 127-196.

FMPP “Foundations for a Metaphysics of Pure Process” (The Carus Lectures) The Monist 64 (1981) 3-90.

KTE “Some Remarks on Kant's Theory of Experience” Journal of Philosophy 64 (1967) 633-647.

KTI “Kant’s Transcendental Idealism” Collections of Philosophy 6 (1976) 165-181.

IKTE “The Role of Imagination in Kant’s Theory of Experience” (The Dotterer Lecture) in: Johnstone, H. (Hrsg.) Categories: A Colloquium. Pennsylvania State University Press (1978) 231-245.

SK “The Structure of Knowledge” (The Matchette Foundation Lectures for 1971 at the University of Texas) in: Castañeda, H.-N. (Hrsg.) Action, Knowledge, and Reality: Studies in Honor of Wilfrid Sellars. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill (1975) 295-347.

SM Science and Metaphysics. Variations on Kantian Themes. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (1968)

SRLG “Some Reflections on Language Games”, in Sellars, W. Science, Perception and Reality. London (1963), 321-358.

Works by John McDowell:

AMG “Avoiding the Myth of the Given” in HWV 256-272.

HI “Hegel’s Idealism as a Radicalization of Kant” in HWV 69-89.

HWV Having the World in View. Essays in Kant, Hegel, and Sellars. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press (2009)

IR “Intentionality as a Relation” in HWV 44-65.

LFI “The Logical Form of an Intuition” in HWV 23-43.

SC “Sensory Consciousness in Kant and Sellars” in HWV 108-126.

SDS “Self-Determining Subjectivity and External Constraint” in HWV 90-107.

SPE “Sellars on Perceptual Experience” in HWV 3-22.

Förster, E. 2012 The Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy, Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press.

Haag, J. 2007 Erfahrung und Gegenstand. Das Verhältnis von Sinnlichkeit und Verstand. Frankfurt a.M.: Klostermann.

Haag, J. 2010 “Personhood, Bodily Self-Ascription, and Resurrection: A Kantian Approach“ in: G. Gasser (ed.) Personal Identity and Resurrection. How Do We Survive Our Death?, Farnham: Ashgate, 127-143.

Haag, J. 2012 “Philosophische Abstraktionsebenen” in: Barth, C. & Sturm, H. (eds.) Robert Brandoms Expressive Vernunft. Historische und Systematische Untersuchungen, Paderborn: mentis, 261-285.

Haag, J. 2013 „Kant on Imagination and the Natural Sources of the Conceptual“ in: Lenz, M. & Waldow, A. (Hrsg.) Contemporary Perspectives on Early Modern Philosophy: Nature and Norms in Thought. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 29. Dordrecht: Springer, 65-85.

Haag, J. 2014 “Faculties in Kant and German Idealism” in: Perler, D. (ed.) Faculties. Oxford Philosophical Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 198-246.

Haag, J, 2016 “A Kantian Critique of Sellars’s Transcendental Realism” in: Reider, P. (ed.) Wilfrid Sellars, Idealism and Realism: Understanding Psychological Nominalism. London: Bloomsbury, 149-171.

Pippin, R. Kant’s Theory of Form. An Essay on the Critique of Pure Reason, New Haven: Yale University Press 1982, 46-51.

Rosenberg, J. “Divergent Intuitions: McDowell’s Kant and Sellars’s Kant” in: Rosenberg, J. Wilfrid Sellars. Fusing the Images. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007, 266-290.


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