Tags

, , , ,

Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared

Wilfrid Stalker Sellars (1912 – 1989) was an American philosopher of critical realism at the University of Pittsburgh. The hypothetical imperative which comes closest to capturing the moral point of view is that of impartial benevolence.

Wilfrid Sellars, philosopher at U of Pittsburgh

Wilfrid Sellars, philosopher


Quotations from Wilfrid Sellars

The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.

In all contexts of action you will recognize rules, if only the rule to grope for rules to recognize. When you cease to recognize rules, you will walk on four feet.

Ought-to-be’s imply ought-to-do’s; and ought-to-do’s typically lead to action.

To achieve success in philosophy would be, to use a contemporary turn of phrase, to ‘know one’s way around’ …, not in that unreflective way in which the centipede of the story knew its way around before it faced the question, ‘how do I walk?’, but in that reflective way which means that no intellectual holds are barred

To formulate a scientifically oriented, naturalistic realism which would “save the appearances”.

People live – within a framework of conceptual thinking in terms of which they can be criticized, supported, refuted, in short, evaluated.

The hypothetical imperative which comes closest to capturing the moral point of view is that of impartial benevolence.

In the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.

The interpretation of thought as “inner speech” has taken different forms, and has been used to clarify a variety of problems–thus problems pertaining to the logical forms of thought and the connection of thought with things.

That in characterizing an episode or a state as that of knowing, we are not giving an empirical description of that episode or state; we are placing it in the logical space of reasons, of justifying and being able to justify what one says.

To put the matter in Aristotelian terminology, visual impressions are prior in the order of being to concepts pertaining to physical color, whereas the latter are prior in the order of knowing to concepts pertaining to visual impressions.

The categories of intentionality are nothing more nor less than the metalinguistic categories in terms of which we talk epistemically about overt speech as they appear in the framework of thoughts construed on the model of overt speech.

An ideally rational being would intend the implications of his intentions, just as he would believe the implications of his beliefs.


Sources for Wilfrid Sellars quotes; AZQuotes, Stanford edu, GoodReadsPoemHunter,


COMMENTS on Wilfrid Sellars

The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term. The broadest possible sense of philosophy is generally related to human relations. This simple idea is quickly buried in definitions, spins, complications, alternate points of viewing the same thing, and abstractions of generalizations and functional rules, and so on, but ultimately most of it must come back to social relations. How do we best live with one another in an infinitely varying world?

People live – within a framework of conceptual thinking in terms of which they can be criticized, supported, refuted, in short, evaluated. This statement is comic when observing ordinary people these days, because the current trend is to claim they don’t criticize, refute or evaluate other people. It is a polite hypocrisy, because that is what they are constantly doing and its personal opposite, constantly seeking others’ approval for their actions. Sellars is right on with this observation, and it leads me to wonder if all enthusiastically spouted nonsense is laden with this kind of denial of the obvious. This idea might be a search method in my theories for probing into the unknown-unknowns.

The hypothetical imperative which comes closest to capturing the moral point of view is that of impartial benevolence. This is a comparison to Kant’s Categorical Imperative, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” The problem with Kant’s imperative is that it is impossibly complicated to apply to even the simplest human interaction. Whereas Sellars’ is easy, and even has Biblical footings. “for God maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matt 5:45

An ideally rational being would intend the implications of his intentions, just as he would believe the implications of his beliefs. This statement comes close to Kant’s Categorical Imperative, because it has an unending set of links off into infinity, and thus ties up even the most attentive person in complications and brings all action to a freeze. Thus we come back to impartial benevolence as a general life strategy even if we are incessantly distracted from performing that way by the constantly changing local circumstance. People in cities usually walk past unknown others with expressions of being lost in their own thoughts, but if you stop them politely and ask a simple question of help with directions they will generally respond as Sellars would suggest, with impartial benevolence. For most people impartial benevolence is the default opening statement.

Advertisements