Chapter

Pragmatism and the Given: C. I. Lewis, Quine, and Peirce

Christopher Hookway

in The Pragmatic Maxim

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588381
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745089 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588381.003.0009
Pragmatism and the Given: C. I. Lewis, Quine, and Peirce

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C. I. Lewis’s book, Mind and the World Order, introduced the distinction between ‘the given’, the immediate data which are presented to the mind and its interpretation through the use of concepts. This reflected the influence of Kant upon Lewis. Lewis’s conception of the given is commonly understood as part of a foundationalist epistemology; Wilfrid Sellars attacked epistemology through criticism of Lewis’s ‘given’. In fact, Lewis was a coherentist who rejected foundationalism, and he introduced the given for metaphysical purposes, to reconcile pragmatism with realism, rather than as an epistemological thesis. Other pragmatists who are sympathetic to realism hold some related, but different views: Peirce argued that we are aware of external things directly in experience; and Quine used his naturalized epistemology to explain our contact with external things

Keywords: given; C. I. Lewis; Wilfrid Sellars; epistemology; metaphysics; coherentism; foundationalism

Chapter.  8228 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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