Experience and Sensation: Sellars and Dewey on the Non-Cognitive Aspects of Mental Life


Teed Rockwell


Sellars never used the word 'experience' as a technical term the way Dewey did, and to my knowledge never cited Dewey's epistemology when discussing his own. But they were both interested in coming up with an holistic alternative to the atomistic epistemology of Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and C. D. Broad. Sellars and Dewey each isolated and critiqued different aspects of this atomistic epistemology by giving it a name: Dewey labeled his target Sensationalistic Empiricism, and Sellars called the object of his critique the Myth of the Given. The main theme of this paper will be the similarity and differences in their responses to this kind of philosophy, and how both responses can be clarified and strengthened by considering recent discoveries in Cognitive Neuroscience.

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