1st Edition

Intentionality in Sellars A Transcendental Account of Finite Knowledge

By Luz Christopher Seiberth Copyright 2022
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book argues that Sellars’ theory of intentionality can be understood as an advancement of a transcendental philosophical approach. It shows how Sellars develops his theory of intentionality through his engagement with the theoretical philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

    The book delivers a provocative reinterpretation of one of the most problematic and controversial concepts of Sellars' philosophy: the picturing-relation. Sellars' theory of intentionality addresses the question of how to reconcile two aspects that seem opposed: the non-relational theory of intellectual and linguistic content and a causal-transcendental theory of representation inspired by the philosophy of the early Wittgenstein. The author explains how both parts cohere in a transcendental account of finite knowledge. He claims that this can only be achieved by reading Sellars as committed to a transcendental methodology inspired by Kant. In a final step, he brings his interpretation to bear on the contemporary metaphilosophical debate on pragmatism and expressivism.

    Intentionality in Sellars will be of interest to scholars of Sellars and Kant, as well as researchers working in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy.

    Foreword by Ray Brassier


    1. Transcendental Methodology

    2. Transcendental Psychology

    3. Perceptual Experience

    4. Non-Relationality

    5. Transcendental Phenomenalism

    6. Objections and Consequences



    Luz Christopher Seiberth is a lecturer at the chair for theoretical philosophy at the University of Potsdam where received his Ph.D. in philosophy. He is the co-editor of Fraught with Ought: Writings from Wilfrid Sellars on Mind, Meaning, and Metaphysics (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and the organiser of the International Sellars Colloquium (www.wilfridsellars.org/isc).

    "Sellars is now recognized as a philosopher who defended the broadly Kantian view that the contentfulness of our thought and intentionality is a matter of the largely implicit and social prescription of rules or laws that are of the understanding’s own making, in the ‘space of reasons’. This normative account has generally been detached from the more naturalistic side of Sellars’ story that emphasizes our environmental embeddedness, and in particular the nature of the systematic causal hookups and representational mappings between mind and world that Sellars called ‘picturing’. Seiberth’s book on Sellars is the first to explain in systematic depth the Kantian transcendental method that constituted Sellars’ attempt to bring both of those sides of the story together in their necessary and dynamic interdependence. The convincing result is that the normative story of our intentionality cannot be told without the scientific naturalist story, and vice versa."

    James O’Shea, University College Dublin, Ireland

    "It has long been accepted that Sellars is a Kantian philosopher, but until now we lacked a detailed understanding of what that meant and why it mattered. Seiberth’s monograph demonstrates in detail that Sellars was not just a Kantian philosopher but also a first-rate Kant scholar. Seiberth shows that Sellars’s claims about Kant can withstand intense critical scrutiny and meticulous comparison with Kant’s texts and arguments. With hermeneutic sensitivity and analytic acumen Seiberth shows that Sellars’s engagement with Kant is inseparable from his philosophy. He also shows that contemporary Kant scholars cannot afford to ignore Sellars."

    Carl B. Sachs, Marymount University, USA

    "In this serious, in-depth book, the author underlines the strong Kantian streak in Sellars’s system and emphasizes the crucial work of the picture theory, two fundamental yet often neglected aspects of Sellars’s theory of intentionality."

    Patrice Philie, University of Ottawa, Canada