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Sellarsian Picturing in Light of Spinoza’s Intuitive Knowledge



In this article, we will attempt to understand Sellars’ puzzling notion of ‘adequate picturing’ and its relation to the Sellarsian ‘conceptual order’ through Spinoza’s intuitive knowledge. First, it will be suggested that there are important structural similarities between Sellarsian ‘adequate picturing’ and Spinoza’s intuitive knowledge which can illuminate some ‘dark’ and not so well understood features of Sellarsian picturing. However, there remain some deep differences between Sellars’ and Spinoza’s philosophy, especially with regard to their notion of ‘adequacy’ and the sense in which an idea can be said to ‘correspond’ with its object. As a consequence of those differences it turns out that, from a Sellarsian viewpoint, Spinoza’s notion of intuitive knowledge is a version of the myth of the Given. However, Sellars’ own proposed way out of the Myth has problematic consequences by Sellars’ own lights: His sharp distinction between the ‘space of reasons’ level and the level of picturing makes the Sellarsian vision of the ‘stereoscopic fusion’ of those levels virtually unintelligible. Finally, it will be argued that a non-standard interpretation of Spinoza’s intuitive knowledge -proposed in Baltas (2012)-, combined with a Sellars-inspired bifurcated understanding of Dreyfusian expert knowledge, can provide the means 1) for constructing a notion of intuitive knowledge that evades the myth of the Given, and, 2) for making full sense of the claim that the ‘space of reasons’ dimension of understanding the world can in principle be fused with the ‘picturing’ dimension and provide us with a single complex coherent experience of reality and our place in it.


Sellars Spinoza Intuitive Knowledge Adequate Picturing Myth of the Given Expert Knowledge 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Patras, University CampusPatrasGreece

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