Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man, Part 2

This is the reading for Saturday, June 15th’s meeting.  As usual, we will meet at 4:00 in the Dunkin Donuts meeting room outside exit 6 of Gangnam Station.

Sellars argues that there are two competing images humans have of themselves and the world.  The manifest image tell us that the world really is the way it appears; the world is explainable as a series of empirically perceivable, manifest objects. Humans are explainable through perceivable psychological objects such as thoughts, desires and beliefs.  The scientific image, on the other hand, insists that the world is not the way it appears.  Rather than the world being a series of basically perceivable objects like tables, the real truth of the world is that these perceivable, manifest objects are underlaid by unperceived objects that we theoretically postulate: atoms, or super strings, or something else.  As for the human, rather than being fundamentally explainable via perceptible thoughts and intentions, it is actually a neurophysiological system.  Sellars believes that these two competing images can actually be brought together in a synoptic image.

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Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man, Part 1

Wilfred Sellars says that philosophy has been used for two different purposes in its history.  In his time and place, it was largely used for the analysis of what has already been given – for example, the dissection of language and experience.  However, philosophy has a more important job: synthesis.  Philosophy’s aim is to understand how things – from numbers and kings to duties and death – hang together.  What is characteristic of philosophy is not a special subject matter, but a knowing one’s way around with respect to all the special disciplines such as biology and chemistry.  It is the “eye on the whole” which distinguishes the philosophical enterprise.  The search for unity is not about unifying various fields such as aesthetics and ethics, but rather of two complete images of how humans view themselves: the manifest image (MI) and the scientific image (SI).

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