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A more general point: most Sellarsians think of the Myth of the Given as an argument for semantic holism. I think that's a mistake, maybe not an important one, but a mistake nevertheless. To see that the Given is a myth, we first have to appreciate semantic holism. Whatever the arguments are for semantic holism -- either strong inferentialism with Brandom or weak inferentialism with Hegel and McDowell -- that has to be in place first. Only then do we get an argument for the claim that the Given is a Myth. Put more succinctly, the critique of the Given is an argument from moderate semantic holism to epistemic anti-foundationalism. (I'm open to correction on this, but that's how I see the overall shape of the argument.) This means that neither intuited logical principles nor the 'testimony' of the senses can be immune to revision, once they've entered into the space of giving and asking for reasons. Jon said above that the rejection of the Given means that nothing can be both causal and normative. This is how Rorty puts it in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, and I'm not sure it's the best way of seeing what Sellars was doing -- although Rorty is the key mediation from Sellars to both Brandom and McDowell. Sellars, for his part, certainly did have a theory of non-conceptual, non-intentional sense-impressions as causally constraining our conceptual, intentional responses to objects. Sellars, like Brandom, denies that intentionality is a relation between mind and world. Rather, they think of intentionality as 'internal' to the discursive community as a whole. McDowell's rejoinder is that we don't need non-conceptual sense-impressions in our theory of experience if intentionality is a relation between mind and world. The passive actualization of conceptual capacities (intentionality) in sensory consciousness in response to facts is, on McDowell's, all the constraint that we need. McDowell is certainly friendlier to animals than Brandom is. I've published a bit on that, where I tried to pry open room for a "logical space of motives" as distinct from "the space of reasons" and "the realm of causes". I got the idea from Mark Wrathall's work on Merleau-Ponty, and it's gotten some uptake in the subsequent literature. I would need to think about how similar that is Okrent's work on goal-oriented behavior. I've been treating them as equivalent but that might be a mistake on my part. One very big issue I'm been wrestling with is whether teleology a la Okrent or the space of motives a la Wrathall is itself a kind of intentionality. I've actually defended both the positive and negative claims in print, so at this point I have no idea what I should think. In my most recent work I've tried distinguishing between "sentient intentionality" and "sapient intentionality". But I have no idea if that will work.
"his meaning use diagrams should be understood as the best thing to happen to critical theory since the Frankfurt School." That's one heck of a claim! I'd love to hear your elucidation of that when you have time!
I agree with Wretzel that Brandom might have room for a non-linguistic account of sapience. But I think the deeper problem with Brandom -- though not with Rorty -- lies in (1) the denigration of sentience as having intrinsic moral status and (2) the essentially disembodied conception of sapience that animates his work. One would not know from reading Brandom that asserting, denying, being committed, etc are all forms of human embodiment. One would not know that it's part of human embodied sapience that speech acts can offend, even humiliate. Nor would one know that we can act on human bodies in such terrible ways as to destroy their ability to participate in the Conversation. I found Jay Bernstein's Torture and Dignity to be, among many other things, a critique of Brandom's intellectualism. As with Kant, and to some extent also Heidegger and even Sellars, human animality does not make a constitutive difference to the account of discourse. It is, for Brandom, a mere fact of implementation.
Very interesting lines of thought here! I agree that many philosophers (including myself) are over-hasty in assimilating McDowell and Brandom (and both to Sellars). But I'd gently resist some moves you make here. For one thing, McDowell does explicitly cite Strawson as a forerunner, whereas Brandom does not. And Brandom is deeply influenced by David Lewis, whereas McDowell is not at all. Brandom's distinction between discursive practices and reliable differential responsive dispositions might look a bit like a neo-Kantian distinction between concepts and intuitions, but I think it's better to read it as attempt to do without "intuitions" at all. You're right that McDowell wants to overcome the deep divide between concepts and intuitions that haunts Kant, and in that regard is much like the German Idealists -- but unlike the German Idealists, McDowell doesn't think that doing so gives any aid and comfort to metaphysics.
I wonder if you are being entirely fair to Norman when you say: "There is however one aspect of Norman’s account which I find unconvincing so far, namely his suggestion that the reason-giver does not need to have the intention to engage in mind-writing for a particular episode to count as an instance of reasoning: “Strictly speaking, the reason-giver needn’t intend to change the reason-taker’s mind” (p. 9). This seems problematic in that, all of a sudden, too much seems to count as reasoning. If my daughter coughs a lot in the middle of the night while asleep, this may count as a reason for me to take her to the doctor the next day for an examination, but it seems odd to say that a process of reasoning takes place. I’d prefer to say that reason-giving must be an intentional process, but I acknowledge that spelling out what exactly this means is by no means obvious." Presumably reason-giving can be 'saturated' with intentionality in all sorts of ways without the intention being about the reason-giving per se, let alone anyone conceiving of the reason-giving as mind-writing. If we are engaged in a process of deliberation, I can conceive of our mutual deliberation as being aimed at increasing likelihood of our each attaining our respective (or shared) goals, so it is intentional in that sense -- but I don't intend the reason-giving, but the attained goals that will likely result from our reason-giving. (Perhaps here we'd need to parse out the relationship between the goal as the final end of the intentional act -- the for-the-sake-of -- and the reason-giving as intentional by virtue of belonging to nest of "A in order to B, B in order to C, C in order to D".) And even if I (or both of us) reflect on the mutual give and take of reason-giving and incorporate that reflection into the deliberation itself (and isn't that itself philosophical?), neither of us need conceive of reason-giving as mind-writing (even if, biologically considered, reason-giving is biotechnology for mind-writing).
Nicely said! The hard question here is how to foster conditions favorable to hybrids and beautiful monsters, and how to institutionalize those conditions. (I prefer Iain Thomson's term, "coyote" -- a border-crosser.) This comes up again and again for a couple of reasons, but here's one (I think). Those of us who have, in some way or another, seen our way clear of "the analytic/Continental divide", still don't have ways of feeding our perspectives back into structure of the profession. The profession is still largely dominated by the Leiter-ized discourse of what counts as a "good" graduate program. The divide is deeply ingrained in the sociology of the profession. (For example: as far as I know, students at Pitt aren't encouraged to take classes at Duquesne, or conversely.) And students who come into grad programs with an emphatic interest in being trained as hybrids or coyotes have far fewer options, both in schools to apply to and in people to work with. The problem reiterates when it comes to journals to publish in, which in turn is crucial for getting a TT job, etc. In short: there's a disconnect between those of us who want to either overcome the Divide or produce beautiful hybrids (and there are a lot of us!) and how the profession is actually structured. By the way, thanks for naming me in the blog post!
Jon, if you decide that my book merits a reading group after you've read it, I'd be delighted and honored. Quite frankly I'm not confident that it does. I'm frustrated by how little the book accomplishes (which is perhaps not a bad thing for a first book).
I like this, but I'm not sure it gets you entirely out from under Sparrow's objections. The pluralism developed here is a pluralism about the different kinds of intentional experience that can be phenomenologically described, together with a modest fallibilism about the completeness of those descriptions. (The latter point needs to be fleshed out slightly to make explicit that phenomenology, as a kind of inquiry, requires a community of inquirers.) However, if all descriptions of intentional experience rely on the same method, then regardless of how many different kinds of intentionality there are, Sparrow's criticisms of the limits of the phenomenological method will still go through for all phenomenological results if it goes through for any one of them. What you might need to show is that Sparrow's criticism only works for static phenomenology. (I have a parallel argument for why static phenomenology is a version of the Myth of the Given, but genetic phenomenology and generative phenomenology are not. It's in the appendix to my book.) Then the argument would go that the very reason why static, genetic, and generative phenomenology must all work together is precisely to avoid the criticism that phenomenology entails idealism. (Maybe this is what you already said?) At any rate, I'd like to see a bit more explication of the relationship between pluralism with regard to kinds of intentional experience -- act intentionality, operative intentionality, others? -- and pluralism with regard to kinds of phenomenology -- static, genetic, generative, others?. I would also point out that in Plastic Bodies, Sparrow builds on Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, and Lingis to develop what he calls "carnal phenomenology", which is non-idealist precisely by virtue of being a phenomenology of non-intentional experiences. (I think I've gotten the claim right. I haven't read the book yet, so I'm going off of an article by Sparrow I read last year.) So even the putative link between phenomenology and intentionality might need to be questioned if we are to block the entailment from phenomenology to idealism.
I'm definitely intrigued by this project, though I should say at the outset that I'm deeply sympathetic to Sparrow's agenda in both The End of Phenomenology and his just published Plastic Bodies. Maybe we could read both together? You raised the suggestion that "f phenomenology and analysis are in the same boat here, then pluralism and radical empiricism might be a way to save classical analysis as well." I don't know what this would mean. However, it strikes me that one important figure in this line of thought might be Huw Price. Price's basic strategy (for those who don't know) is to take Blackburn's quasi-realism and globalize it. The result is that there's a plurality of discourses, each of which is quasi-realistic. (Wittgenstein and Carnap are important figures here.) But I don't know if Price's discursive pluralism is what you have in mind here. Minor aside 1: in The Rise of Neokantianism, Kohnke argues that the "return to Kant" movement was not just inspired by the interminable quarrels within metaphysics, but also by the political threat posed by German Idealism. Idealism was seen as aligned with liberal causes, and a threat to established order. After the failed revolution of 1848, universities cracked down on the system-builders, and philosophers retreated to epistemology because it was politically safe. I don't know if Kohnke's narrative has been superseded by more recent work on the history of German idealism. But it is worth pointing out that a parallel story is told by Reisch about why the logical positivists who had come to the U.S. abandoned socialism during the Cold War. Now that analytic philosophy has rediscovered its own implicit politics (if Jason Stanley is to be believed), it is worth thinking here about how analytic philosophy was constructed as such through de-politicization of epistemology. Minor aside 2: the demise of logical positivism as The Way Forward for philosophy is also linked to the return of Hegel, both as a figure for serious, analytically informed scholarship (Pippin, Pinkard, Stern, Westphal) and as a source of theoretical inspiration (Brandom, McDowell, Redding). The return of Hegel in post-analytic philosophy offers a nice point where analytic philosophers can appreciate the critiques of Hegel developed in non-phenomenological Continental philosophy, but esp. "Continental realism".
I really like the suggestions, but I worry that implementing them would amount to increasing the work-load substantively for NTT scholar-teachers. In the States, at any rate, NTT scholar-teachers have a much higher teaching load than TT scholar-teachers. Someone who is teaching 4/4 or more doesn't only need more recognition of her scholarship; she also needs more time in which to be a scholar. My ideal for the evolution of the academy would be the creation of two different tenure-streams, one for researchers (with light teaching demands) and one for teachers (with light research demands), but with strict parity of compensation, benefits, and institutionalized protection. Some schools are moving in that direction with their policy for multi-year contract, full-time lecturers, with explicit promotion standards. I'd like to see a lot more of that. Until that glorious day, I think that it is the structure of the workplace -- making sure that NTT are included in all decision-making, feeling respected and appreciated by TT colleagues, etc. -- is just as important as recognition of the quality of scholarship.
Are you still accepting submissions?
To re-emphasize Rebecca's point above: the PGR measures prestige, and it would function as a measurement of merit only if we had good reasons to believe the perceived prestige is a reliable indicator of merit. But we don't have good reasons to believe that, and plenty of good reasons to believe otherwise -- for all the reasons that Iris Marion Young outlines in "The Myth of Merit". The question, as I see it, is whether a measurement of prestige is something we want. And I can see one reason why the answer might well be "yes": because the prestige of one's Ph.D.-granting institution (and the prestige of the people one works with while there) does play a substantial role in whether one gets a tenure-track job upon graduating. No doubt it ought not play such a role, but there can't be much doubt that it does. Eliminating a ranking system like the PGR is not going, all by itself, bring about an end to the cognitive biases that search committees must rely upon to winnow a pool of 500 candidates to the manageable pool of 15 for first-round interviews.
I also read Alan Watts, and got inspired in philosophy by reading him in high school. Maybe we need to start a support group. ("Hello, I'm a professor of philosophy, and I enjoy reading 'popularizers' . . . ") Other popularizers I read back then -- and would recommend without hesitation to anyone interested in philosophy -- are Walter Kauffmann and R. D. Laing. So much of Deleuze and Guattari strikes me as Laing translated into Lacan, and that's great if you know Lacan, but if you don't, why bother?
Since neither "Continental philosophy" nor "analytic philosophy" are natural-kind terms, identifying a cross-over school is going to be tricky. For example, are UCSD and Georgetown 'cross-over' departments or 'pluralistic'? UCSD has people who work in 19th-century idealism and Nietzsche; GU has people who work in 19th-century idealism and phenomenology. A student from one of those schools could certainly understand what was at stake in Frege's criticism of Husserl, or what is correct and incorrect in Carnap's critique of Heidegger. However, there are many departments in which coverage of "Continental philosophy" stops in the 1940s or 1950s. University of New Mexico, Northwestern, and Notre Dame are all exceptions to that generalization and also teach core analytic philosophy. So 'cross-over' becomes something like, 'which departments don't have a blind-spot about Continental realism?'
"I am alone in the midst of these happy, reasonable voices. All these creatures spend their time explaining, realizing happily that they agree with each other. In Heaven's name, why is it so important to think the same things all together." I'll burn that on the inside of my eyelids and smirk when anyone asks me why I'm blinking so much during my nine-hour new faculty orientation session on Friday.
Yes, that's a very nice point -- 'pernicious' is somewhat different from 'bad.' It's not hard to see how Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Quine, or Derrida might be pernicious insofar as their work authorizes the production of disciples whose contributions consist of making the same points over and over again. And yet there's no doubt in my mind that all four are brilliant philosophers worthy of careful study -- in order to see more clearly their profound weaknesses and limitations, and how much work there still is to do! Perhaps the most pernicious of notions here is the notion of perniciousness itself?
I do think there are distinct intellectual virtues engendered by skilled competence in more than one philosophical tradition: suppleness of thought, the creativity akin to cross-modal integration, liberation from the dogmatic pronouncements of previous generations all come to mind. Though saying that skilled understanding (not just familiarity) is crucial for philosophical competence (not just intellectual excellence) seems to be raising the bar somewhat high -- by that standard, I suspect that philosophical competence will forever elude me. Since most NewAPPS participants are coming to pluralism from the side of solid grounding in "analytic" (loosely construed) philosophy, let me say something about my experiences traveling in the opposite direction. I was trained at the intersection of the history of philosophy and 'Continental' philosophy, and wrote a dissertation that was basically a solid history of philosophy work on Nietzsche -- though 'my' Nietzsche was closer to that of Foucault and Deleuze than to that of Leiter and Clark. The scales fell from my eyes in stages, but the biggest turning point was reading Jay Bernstein's 2001 book on Adorno. I was utterly blown away by how Bernstein was able to translate Adorno's gnomic pronouncements into arguments that bore directly on central concerns of analytic epistemology and metaethics -- yet at the same time showing exactly why Adorno had a stronger position than McDowell or Brandom. In order to figure out what Bernstein was doing and why, I started reading McDowell (there was a small McDowell reading group in my grad department, continuing the UCSD legacy as a resistance cell of German Idealism within mainstream philosophy). From then I started reading Sellars and Brandom, and I was off to the races. To this day I still get some criticism from friends who are invested in their identity as Continental philosophers -- but that pales in comparison to the support I receive from colleagues trained in both 'analytic' and 'Continental' tradition. I actually feel quite confident that someday quite soon someone will be able to write a book, The Rise and Fall of the Analytic/Continental Divide: 1931-2014.* * I picked 1931 because that was when Carnap published "Uberwindung der Metaphysik durch logische Analyse der Sprache”, and 2014 because, as Cogburn has been urging here, the rise of 'Continental realism' does away with the last major substantive divide between analytic and Continental philosophy.
I think we can gain some traction on these questions by asking, "who needs to know the history of philosophy, and for what purposes?" (I've only taught undergraduates, so please take with multiple grains of salt my opinions about what graduate students should be asked to understand.) At the undergraduate level, I'm become firmly convinced that we do our students a profound disservice by acting as if the foremost purpose of an undergraduate major is to prepare students for graduate school and the subsequent career of a professional philosopher. We should, instead, renew our vocation of equipping our students with the cognitive tools to flourish (hopefully) in an increasingly uncertain and perilous social and physical environment. (A first-year college student will almost certainly, if she has a normal life-expectancy for someone in the developed world, experience political and ecological turmoil of a degree that we may hope we never do.) In light of that, it's not clear to me how much history of philosophy is really needed at the undergraduate level -- and I say this as someone who mostly teaches the history of philosophy. Rather, I think there's a strong presumptive case that understanding the epistemology of ignorance, or the mistakes that non-scientists commonly make when reasoning about scientific discoveries and theories, is of far more importance than getting our undergraduate students to appreciate the dialectic from Kant to Hegel to neo-Kantianism to neo-Hegelianism. Even at the graduate level, it's not so clear to me that student pursuing a terminal MA really need to appreciate the history of philosophy in all that much depth. It's only the Ph.D. students -- those who are likely to secure decent tenure-track positions and become the next generation of professional philosophers -- who need to "understand Kant, how Kant led to Hegel, how (and hopefully why with respect to the 19th century) Hegel was finally suppressed in the "back to Kant" movement, how phenomenology and logical positivism pushed the neo-Kantian moment to its breaking point, and how contemporary philosophy is a reaction to the agonies and ecstasies of positivism and phenomenology." And we should figure out why understanding the discourse of these dead white men is going to help an increasingly pluralistic discipline avoid the mistakes of those dead white men.
I think the points raised here about the exclusion of non-traditionally-privileged voices from "the analytic/Continental divide" is well worth taking seriously. There's something to be said for teaching each other (and our students) to read (and write) across this divide, but all of the other philosophical styles and problematics must be included in order for us to get to a point where the very idea of "the analytic/Continental divide" is a thing of the past. That said, one way of getting the privileged voices both on the table and out of the way would be to focus on the debate on metaphysics in German philosophy in the 1930s. One could read (preferably in this order?) Heidegger's "What is Metaphysics?", Carnap's "The Overcoming of Metaphysics Through the Logical Analysis of Language" (which responds polemically and directly to Heidegger and has a lovely enconium to Nietzsche at the end), and then Horkheimer's "The Latest Attack on Metaphysics" (which is a polemical response to Carnap). That gives you three canonical texts, all historically (and personally) linked together. Once that's out of the way, one could move on to the stuff that's actually relevant to contemporary needs.
In addition to Hanna's Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy, his Embodied Minds in Action (co-authored with Maiesse) is a very nice book that (to borrow a well-known bon mot) binds the spirit of Merleau-Ponty in the fetters of Kripke.
In addition to the excellent books already mentioned, here are a few others: (1) Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World: The McDowell-Dreyfus Debate (ed. Joseph Schear); (2) pretty much anything by Richard Bernstein, but esp. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism and Praxis and Action; (3) Adorno: Disenchantment and Ethics, Jay Bernstein -- Bernstein brings Adorno into conversation with, among others, Sellars, Brandom, and McDowell; (4) Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind, ed. Smith and Thomasson. (5) Dialogues with Davidson (ed. Malpas) (6) How Scientific Practices Matter, Joe Rouse.
I won't pretend to claim how interesting a conversation between me and Stern would be, seeing as how I'm still a very junior scholar. But I'll definitely read his book! (For one thing, it should give me some further historical context for understanding why C. I. Lewis and Sellars both thought that positing a difference between perception and judgment was supposed to halt the slippery slope to "idealism," and why it would be a good thing to do so.)
I wouldn't say that my hope is that there will be enough "overlap" so as to undermine the analytic/Continental divide. Rather, my hope is that the very idea of a divide will be dissolved by embracing methodological pluralism about professional philosophy. ("Pluralism" is what pragmatists call "multiplicity".) As I see it -- here I'm thinking about Friedman's A Parting of the Ways and also Abraham Stone's outstanding paper on Carnap's criticism of Heidegger -- both Heidegger and Carnap function as the founding figures of Continental and analytic philosophy by excluding whatever is not "genuine philosophy" -- as not being "scientific" (Carnap) or as not really "thinking" (Heidegger). If we can appreciate methodological pluralism -- that both Carnap and Heidegger are themselves but two options among many -- then we won't be in the grip of "the analytic/Continental divide". Now, one result of that pluralism will be all sorts of new and interesting hybrids, like analytic neo-Hegelianism and Continental realism. Lately as I find more and more interesting material in the Continental realists that looks like the metaphysical side of Peirce, Dewey, and Lewis -- which the analytic pragmatists dispensed with, in keeping with their Carnapian scorn towards metaphysics -- I've been toying with the notion of a 'speculative pragmatism' (not directly connected with Rosenthal's book of the same title, though). But the hybridization is a consequence of the pluralism, and it's the pluralism that I'm hoping for, not a "melting pot".
That's very funny about the index to Dear Carnap, Dear Van! Yes, Lewis is getting more and more attention these days. In my present book project I have a chapter on Lewis, where I argue that his commitment to "the given" amounts to a version of Sellars's "Myth of the Given", but only if we interpret the latter slightly differently from how it has usually been understood. And I'll be presenting on the Lewis-Sellars relationship at both the Central and Pacific APAs this year.
I've been chasing after the Holy Grail of "non-scientistic naturalism" (NSN) for ten years or more, and every time I think I'm getting close -- with Nietzsche, Dewey, McDowell, Adorno, or Merleau-Ponty -- I lose my grip. Even after reading both of the De Caro and Macarthur volumes, I still can't tell how NSN counts as naturalism. I'm beginning to suspect that "scientism" is itself a problematic notion wherein "science" (or "technoscience") is blamed for the social and psychic ills produced by capitalism. And if that's anywhere near right, then the problem isn't to disentangle naturalism from "scientism," but to keep naturalism and scientific realism wedded together and disentangle those from their complicity with what capitalism does to technology. If reading Johnston will help me think through these problems, I will run -- not walk! -- to my on-line book purveyor.