Sense-Experience and the Grounding of Thought

Barry Stroud

in Philosophers Past and Present

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608591
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729621 | DOI:
Sense-Experience and the Grounding of Thought

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This chapter questions the proper understanding of perception, or what McDowell calls ‘experience’, in our thinking and knowing what we do about the world. It must be possible to understand ourselves as perceiving that things are thus and so, where that says how things are in the world independently of us and our perceptions. The question is how perception is to be understood to secure that result. McDowell's invocation of what he calls ‘impressions’ seems to threaten that possibility. The chapter questions whether his legitimate concern for the ‘spontaneity’ involved in perception and perceptual knowledge requires anything more than our having the capacity to perceive and thereby to know that p when (but not whenever) it is the case that p. There is a lack of understanding on why, or even whether, McDowell thinks, or thought, that a purely ‘experiential’, nonjudgemental component of perceptual knowledge can somehow be sliced off from the rest.

Keywords: McDowell; perception; experience; impressions; spontaneity

Chapter.  7256 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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