Context

(Student Guide to World Philosophy)

This volume collects a number of significant essays that Wilfrid S. Sellars wrote between 1951 and 1962. These essays explore topics in metaphysics and epistemology and give a good picture of Sellars’s philosophical system in these areas, but they do not exhaust the range or depth of his thought. Sellars is reacting in part against the logical empiricism that dominated the American philosophical scene at the time. There is a Kantian flavor to his response to empiricism, distinguishing between the (strictly speaking, phenomenal) realm of the conceptual, normative, and social and the realm of causal, physical reality. However, Sellars accommodates the insights of the rationalists and idealists without abandoning his naturalism by treating the conceptual and social as normatively constituted dimensions of human activity that supervene on the physical. The opening essay, “Philosophy and Scientific Image of Man” remains the best statement of Sellars’s philosophical mission, and “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” is still his most influential work.