Persons, Peirceish, perfidious pluralism – rescuing Sellars


  • Paul Giladi Manchester Metropolitan University



manifest image, Peirceish, scientific image, negative dialectics, Wilfrid Sellars, Theodor Adorno


In Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man (1962), Wilfrid Sellars contends that there is tension between manifest image (MI) and scientific image (SI) discursive formations. To end the tension and resolve the clash between the MI and the SI, Sellars does not aim to reconcile the two images. Rather, through the application of his functional classification semantics, typified by his distinction between logical irreducibility and causal reducibility, he aims to join the normative category of persons to the SI, to enrich and complete the SI. In other words, the way all things hang together stereoscopically in one unified and coherent image is by integrating persons into Peirceish. My principal aim in this paper is to argue that, rather than resolve the clash between the MI and the SI by joining the ‘lifeworldy’ conceptual framework of persons to the SI for the purpose of enriching and completing the SI, what Sellars ought to have done is adopt a negative dialectical ‘resolution’ of the clash between the images. This strategy invites one to dismantle the Placement Problem through the logic of “disintegration.” I take Sellars to have curiously hinted at this Adornian intellectual orientation in the concluding sentence of Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind (1956).



Abbreviations for works by Wilfrid Sellars

CDCM = 1958, “Counterfactuals, Dispositions, and the Causal Modalities”, in H. Feigl, M. Scriven, and G. Maxwell, eds. Concepts, Theories, and the Mind-Body Problem, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis (MN): 225-308.

EPM = 1997, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

N&O = 1980b, Naturalism and Ontology: The John Dewey Lectures for 1973-74, Ridgeview Publishing Co, Reseda (CA).

PP = 1977, Philosophical Perspectives: Metaphysics and Epistemology, Ridgeview Publishing Co, Atascadero (CA).

PPPW = 1980a, Pure Pragmatics and Possible Worlds: The Early Essays of Wilfrid Sellars, Ridgeview Publishing Co, Atascadero (CA).

S&M = , 1968, Science and Metaphysics: Variations on Kantian Themes, Routledge, London.

SPR = Science, Perception and Reality, Routledge, London & New York.

WSNDL = 2015, Wilfrid Sellars: Notre Dame Lectures 1969-1986, ed. by P.V. Amaral, Ridgeview Publishing Co, Atascadero (CA).

Other works

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 1973, Negative Dialectics, Eng. tr. by E. B. Ashton, Continuum, New York.

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 1974, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, Eng. tr. by E. Jephcott, Verso, London.

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 1993, Hegel: Three Studies, Eng. tr. by S.W. Nicholsen, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA).

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 2008, Lectures on Negative Dialectics: Fragments of a lecture course 1965/1966, ed. by R. Tiedemann, Eng. tr. by R. Livingstone, Polity Press, Cambridge (MA).

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 2013, Aesthetic Theory, ed. by G. Adorno and R. Tiedemann, Eng. tr. by R. Hullot-Kentor, Bloomsbury, London.

Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 2017, Introduction to Dialectics, ed. by C. Ziermann, Eng. tr. by N. Walker, Polity Press, Cambridge (MA).

Baker, Lynne Rudder, 2013, Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Baker, Lynne Rudder, 2017, “Naturalism and the Idea of Nature”, in Philosophy, 92: 333-349.

Beale, Jonathan, and Kidd, Ian James, eds. 2017, Wittgenstein and Scientism, Routledge, New York.

Bernstein, Richard J., 1966, “Sellars’s Vision of Man-in-the-Universe I”, in Review of Metaphysics, 20: 113-143.

Brandom, Robert B., 2015, From Empiricism to Expressivism: Brandom Reads Sellars, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Butler, Judith, 1999, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 2nd Edition, Routledge, London & New York.

Carnap, Rudolf [1958], 1975, “Observational Language and Theoretical Language”, in Jaako Hintikka,ed. Rudolf Carnap, Logical Empiricist: Materials and Perspectives, Springer, Dordrecht: 75-85.

Cartwright, Nancy, Cat, Jordi, Fleck, Lola, and Uebel, Thomas E., 1996, Otto Neurath: Philosophy Between Science and Politics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Cavarero, Adriana, 2016, Inclinations: A Critique of Rectitude. Eng. tr. by A. Minervini and A. Sitze, Stanford University Press, Stanford (CA).

Christias, Dionysis, 2016a, “Can ‘Ready-to-Hand’ Normativity be Reconciled with the Scientific Image?”, in Philosophia, 44: 447-467.

Christias, Dionysis, 2016b, “Can Sellars’s argument for scientific realism be used against his own scientia mensura principle?”, in Synthese, 193: 2837-2863.

Christias, Dionysis, 2018a, “On the proper construal of the manifest-scientific image distinction: Brandom contra Sellars”, in Synthese, 195: 1295-1320.

Christias, Dionysis, 2018b, “Reconciling Scientific Naturalism with the Unconditionality of the Moral Point of View: A Sellars-inspired Account”, in Res Philosophica, 95: 111-149.

Christias, Dionysis, 2019a, “Towards a Reformed Liberal and Scientific Naturalism”, in Dialectica, 73: 507-534.

Christias, Dionysis, 2019b, “The Non-Conceptual Dimension of Social Mediation: Towards a Materialist Aufhebung of Hegel”, in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 27: 448-473.

Dach, Stephanie, 2018, “Sellars’s Two Images as a Philosopher’s Tool”, in Metaphilosophy, 49: 568-588.

Davidson, Donald, 2001, “Mental Events”, in D. Davidson,ed.) Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

De Caro, Mario, 2015, “Realism, Common Sense, and Science”, in The Monist, 98: 197-214.

De Caro, Mario, 2019, “Common-sense and Naturalism”, in Giladi 2019b: 184-207.

De Caro, Mario and Macarthur, Douglas, 2010a, Naturalism and Normativity, Columbia University Press, New York.

De Caro, Mario and Macarthur, Douglas, 2010b, “Introduction: Science, Naturalism, and the Problem of Normativity”, in De Caro and Macarthur 2010a: 1-20.

D’Oro, Giuseppina, 2018a, “The Touch of King Midas: Collingwood on why actions are not events”, in Philosophical Explorations 21: 1-10.

D’Oro, Giuseppina, 2019, “Between Ontological Hubris and Epistemic Humility: Collingwood, Kant and Transcendental Arguments”, in British Journal of the History of Philosophy, 27: 336-357.

deVries, Willem A., 2005, Wilfrid Sellars, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal and Kingston.

deVries, Willem A., 2016a, “Images, Descriptions, and Pictures: Personhood and the Clash”, in J.R. O’Shea,ed. Wilfrid Sellars and His Legacy, Oxford University Press, Oxford: 47-59.

deVries, Willem A., 2016b, “Just What is the Relation between the Manifest and the Scientific Images?”, in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 24: 112-128.

deVries, Willem A., 2017, “Hegelian Spirits in Sellarsian Bottles”, Philosophical Studies, 174: 1643-1654.

deVries, Willem A., 2019, “Hegel and Sellars on the Unity of Things”, in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 27: 363-378.

Finlayson, James G., 2014, “Hegel, Adorno and the Origins of Immanent Criticism”, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 22: 1142-1166.

Fodor, Jerry, 1974, “Special Sciences, or the Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis”, in Synthese, 28: 97-115.

Fodor, Jerry, 1997, “Special Sciences: Still Autonomous After All These Years”, in Noûs, 31: 149-163.

Foucault, Michel, 1980, Power/Knowledge, ed. by C. Gordon, Pantheon, New York.

Foucault, Michel, 1997, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Eng. tr. by A. Sheridan, Vintage Books, New York.

Giladi, Paul, 2019a, “The Placement Problem and the Threat of Voyeurism”, in Giladi 2019b: 71-97.

Giladi, Paul, 2019b, ed. Responses to Naturalism: Critical Perspectives from Idealism and Pragmatism, Routledge, New York.

Giladi, Paul, 2020a, “A Foucauldian Critique of Scientific Naturalism: ‘Docile Minds’”, in Critical Horizons, 21: 264-286.

Habermas, Jürgen, 1971, Knowledge and Human Interests, Eng. tr. by J.J. Shapiro, Beacon Press, Boston.

Habermas, Jürgen, 1987a, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, Eng. tr. by F.G. Lawrence, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA).

Habermas, Jürgen, 1987b, The Theory of Communicative Action. Vol. II: Lifeworld and System, Eng. tr. by T. McCarthy, Beacon, Boston.

Hammer, Espen, 2020, “The Antinomy of Modernism and Anti-Modernism in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics”, in P. Giladi, ed. Hegel and the Frankfurt School, Routledge, New York: 33-52.

Hanna, Robert, 2014, “Husserl’s Crisis and Our Crisis”, in International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 22: 752-770.

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, DFS = “Die Differenz des Fichteschen und Schellingschen Systems der Philosophie”, in Kritisches Journal der Philosophie; Eng. tr. by H. S. Harris and W. Cerf 1977 The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy, State University of New York Press, Albany (NY).

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, EPW = Enzykopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse; Eng. tr. Part 1 by T. F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting, and H. S. Harris 1991, The Encyclopaedia Logic, Hackett, Indianapolisi (IN); Eng. tr. Part 2 by A.V. Miller 1970, Philosophy of Nature (Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Hicks, Michael, forthcoming, “Wilfrid Sellars and the task of philosophy”, in Synthese.

Jackson, Franck C., 1998, From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis Oxford University Press, Oxford.

James, William, 2003, Essays in Radical Empiricism, Dover Publications, London-New York.

Kelly, Erin, 2008, “Doing without Desert”, in M. McKenna and P. Russell, eds. Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment”, Ashgate, Farnham: 273-296.

Kukla, Rebecca, 2006, “Objectivity and Perspective in Empirical Knowledge”, in Episteme, 3: 80-95.

Kukla, Rebecca and Lance, Mark, 2009, ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’ The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Levine, Steven, 2019, “Rethinking Sellars’s Naturalism”, in Giladi 2019b: 250-270.

Lewis, David, 1970, “How to Define Theoretical Terms”, The Journal of Philosophy, 67: 427-446.

Macarthur, David, 2008, “Pragmatism, Metaphysical Quietism, and the Problem of Normativity”, in Philosophical Topics, 36: 193-209.

Macarthur, David and Price, Huw, 2007, “Pragmatism, Quasi-realism and the Global Challenge”, in C. Misak, ed. The New Pragmatists, Oxford University Press, Oxford: 91-121.

Marcuse, Herbert, 2002, One-Dimensional Man, Eng. tr. by , Routledge, London/New York.

Margolis, Joseph, 2016, “Persons as Natural Artifacts”, in Pragmatism Today, 7: 8-22.

McGowan, Todd, 2019, Emancipation after Hegel: Achieving a Contradictory Revolution, Columbia University Press, New York.

Mignolo, Walter D., 2011, The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options, Duke University Press, Durham (NC).

McDowell, John, 1994, Mind and World, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Moore, Adrian William. 2012, The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics: Making Sense of Things, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Moran, Dermot, 2008, “Husserl’s Transcendental Philosophy and the Critique of Naturalism”, in Continental Philosophy Review, 41: 401-425.

Moran, Dermot, 2012, Husserl’s Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Moran, Dermot, 2013, “‘Let’s Look at It Objectively’: Why Phenomenology Cannot be Naturalised”, in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 72: 89-115.

Nagel, Ernest, 1961, The Structure of Science, Harcourt, Brace and World, New York.

O’Connor, Brian, 2004, Adorno’s Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA) and London.

O’Connor, Brian, 2013. Adorno, Routledge, New York.

Oppenheim, Paul and Putnam, Hilary, 1958, “The Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis”, in H. Feigl et al., eds. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Vol. 2, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis: 3-36.

O’Shea, James R., 2007, Wilfrid Sellars: Naturalism with a Normative Turn, Polity, Cambridge.

O’Shea, James R., 2009, “On the Structure of Sellars’s Naturalism with a Normative Turn”, in W. A. deVries,ed. Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars, Oxford University Press, Oxford: 187-210.

O’Shea, James R., 2016, “What to Take Away from Sellars’s Kantian Naturalism”, in J.R. O’Shea, ed. Wilfrid Sellars and His Legacy, Oxford University Press, Oxford: 130-148.

Papazoglou, Alexis, 2019, “The Idealist Challenge to Naturalism”, in Giladi 2019b: 98-119.

Pierce, Charles S., 1992, The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, ed. by. Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel, 2 vols., Indiana University Press, Bloomington (IN).

Price, Huw, 2004, “Naturalism without Representationalism”, in De Caro and Macarthur 2010a: 71-88.

Putnam, Hilary, 1990, Realism with a Human Face, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Putnam, Hilary, 1994, Words and Life, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Putnam, Hilary, 1995, Pragmatism: An Open Question, Blackwell, Oxford.

Putnam, Hilary, 2002, The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Putnam, Hilary, 2004, “The Content and Appeal of ‘Naturalism’”, in De Caro, Mario and Macarthur, Douglas, eds. Naturalism in Question, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA): 59-70.

Putnam, Hilary, 2012, Philosophy in an Age of Science: Physics, Mathematics, and Scepticism, ed. by. M. De Caro and D. Macarthur, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA).

Putnam, Hilary, 2015, “Naturalism, Realism, and Normativity”, in Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 1: 312-328.

Quine, Willard V., 1948, “On What There Is”, in The Review of Metaphysics 2: 21-38.

Ramsey, Franck P., 1931, The Foundations of Mathematics and Other Logical Essays, ed. by R.B. Braithwaite, Kegan Paul, London.

Rescher, Nicholas, 2017, “Philosophy as Rational Systematisation”, in G. D’Oro and S. Overgaard, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Philosophical Methodology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 32-43.

Rorty, Richard, 1997, “Introduction”, in Sellars 1997: 1-12.

Rorty, Richard, 2010, “Naturalism and Quietism”, in De Caro and Macarthur 2010a: 55-68.

Rosenberg, Alexander, 2014, “Disenchanted Naturalism”, in B. Bashour and H.D. Muller, eds. Contemporary Philosophical Naturalism and Its Implications, Routledge, New York/London: 17-36.

Rosenberg, Jay F., 2007, Wilfrid Sellars: Fusing the Images, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Rosenberg, Jay F., 2009, “On Sellars’s Two Images of the World”, in W.A. deVries, ed. Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Rosenthal, David, 2016, “Quality Spaces, Relocation, and Grain”, in J.R. O’Shea, ed. Wilfrid Sellars and His Legacy, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Sobstyl, Edrie, 2004, “Re-radicalising Nelson’s Feminist Empiricism”, in Hypatia, 19: 119-141.

Stern, Robert, 2009, Hegelian Metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Strawson, Peter F., 2008, “Freedom and Resentment”, in M. McKenna and P. Russell, eds. Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment”, Ashgate, Farnham: 19-36.

Wedgwood, Ralph, 2007, The Nature of Normativity, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Wolf, Susan, 2008, “The Importance of Free Will”, in M. McKenna and P. Russell, eds. Free Will and Reactive Attitudes: Perspectives on P. F. Strawson’s “Freedom and Resentment”, Ashgate, Farnham: 69-83.

Young, Iris Marion, 1990, Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton University Press, Princeton (NJ).