> 2, 2015 > Sellars Logical Space of Reasons and Kants Copernican Revolution

Tom Rockmore
Sellars Logical Space of Reasons and Kants Copernican Revolution


21 2016

Tom Rockmore
Ph. D. and Habilitation à diriger des travaux, both in philosophy,
Humanities chair professor and Professor of Philosophy. Peking University,
Dept. of Philosophy, Yiheyuan Str. 5, Haidian, Peking, P. R. 100871, China;
e-mail: rockmore@duq.edu

 

Wilfrid Sellars’s currently influential approach to knowledge follows Kant in rejecting the given in favor of an approach to knowledge based on the logical space of reasons. Though Sellars turns away from the Copernican revolution, he builds on a recognizably Kantian approach to provide knowledge of the mind-independent real as it is through scientism, in his case the preference for the scientific over the so-called folk view. Kant argues for his novel Copernican paradigm in pointing to the failure to make progress if we assume that “all our cognition must conform to the objects.” Sellars builds on the traditional reading of Kant as a representational thinker, precisely the approach the latter later abandons in his Copernican turn. If Sellars is correct, then Kant was mistaken to abandon traditional representationalism. If Kant is correct, then, on the contrary, Sellars’ effort to support the traditional, representational approach to cognition will fail. More than two centuries ago Kant thought that no progress had ever been made on the assumption that knowledge must correspond to the object. Sellars’ failure to show that we cognize mindindependent reality indirectly suggests the interest of the alternative Copernican approach by assuming that objects must conform to our cognition. Since no one has ever formulated an argument to show that we in fact grasp mind-independent reality, this entire effort fails. I take this point to support the Kantian alternative in turning to a constructivist approach to cognition