Sellars and McDowell on Kant's Theory of Perceptual Synthesis

Title: Sellars and McDowell on Kant's Theory of Perceptual Synthesis
Authors: Al-Fadli, Ageel
Date: 2014
Abstract: This dissertation explores Kant’s theory of perceptual experience. A reconstruction of Kant’s conception of perceptual synthesis is pursued through an examination of two interpretations given by Wilfrid Sellars and John McDowell. The two interpretations defended by Sellars and McDowell emphasize on the conceptual synthesis of the understanding in shaping the sensory consciousness. Also, the two interpretations seek to articulate a conception of external constraint in perceptual activity that is answerable to independent reality. The external constraint is necessary to explain the occurrence of perceptual experience. The manifold of sense is considered as an external constraint in perceptual synthesis. Sellars takes sheer receptivity as providing this constraining element in perceptual experience, whereas McDowell argues that sensations as informed by the understanding can sufficiently provide this constraining content. After examining both interpretations, I will argue that Sellars and McDowell incorrectly take external constraint as appropriated by the concepts of the understanding. To defend this claim, I will reconstruct Kant’s conception of perceptual experience by demonstrating that Kant posits the manifold of sensations as independent of the operation of the understanding. The manifold of sensations constrains the conceptual content of experience through the synthesis of apprehension. In this synthesis, the manifold of sensations resists the figurative synthesis of imagination from being re-constituted through the extensive forms of space and time.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -