Lived Experience and the Myth of the Given: Bergson and Sellars
AbstractThis paper contrasts two divergent conceptions of experience: Bergson’s and Sellars’. The former pits experience against representation, and insists that a new form of conceptualization is necessary to map the terrain of experience. The latter insists that experience is a conceptual achievement through and through, even though not all experience is conceptual. This divergence can be coupled with two contrasting visions of the difference between thinking and sensing. For Bergson, the metaphysical task consists in forging concepts commensurate with the intuition of sensation. For Sellars, the metaphysical task is to reconceptualize sensation in such a way as to re-integrate it into physical science. The paper considers this dichotomy and concludes, contra Bergson and with Sellars, that self-knowledge is neither internal nor absolute, and that it differs in degree rather than in kind from our knowledge of other objects.
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