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Title: Experience, agency and the self
Author: Gaskin, Richard Maxwell
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1988
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Wilfrid Sellars has made familiar a distinction between manifest and scientific images of man-in-the-world. The manifest image is 'a sophistication and refinement of the image in terms of which man first came to be aware of himself as man-in-the-world' ([2], p.18)/ and in its methodology 'limits itself to what correlational techniques can tell us about perceptible and introspectible events' (p.19). The scientific image, on the other hand, 'postulates imperceptible objects and events for the purpose of explaining correlations among perceptibles.' (ib.) This thesis is centred on a consideration of two difficulties facing anyone who takes the manifest image seriously as an autonomous image of man. In chapter 1 I consider the connection between perception and its objects, and argue that there is a disharmony between the manifest and scientific accounts of this connection. But I also suggest that the manifest image, which incorporates a certain Cartesianism or internalism, cannot lightly be dispensed with in our understanding of the nature of experience. Chapter 2 is a companion piece to chapter 1: in it I argue that the manifest view of experience accords a certain metaphysical priority to secondary over primary qualities in the constitution of any world capable of being experienced; I also suggest that the scientific image is dependent on the manifest image/ and so cannot subvert it. In chapter 3 I turn to the other main area of difficulty: freedom. I argue that free will as the incompatibilist contrues it is constitutive of the time-order; but that it carries with it implicit internal contradictions. The conflict here lies within the manifest image; the scientific image discerns no such freedom/ and so incurs no such problems. But if I am right that freedom constitutes time/ it will not be an option for us to disembarrass ourselves of the contradictions. I also argue that there is a relation of mutual dependence between freedom/ incompatibilistically construed/ and internalism. The manifest image as a whole - deeply problematic as it is - is therefore grounded in and entailed by something quite ineluctable/ namely the reality of the time-series. This is the principal conclusion of the thesis. If I succeed here/ I provide support for the claim that our difficulties with the manifest image cannot be solved by abandoning it: the manifest image/ problems and all/ must just be lived with. The remainder of the thesis explores topics related to this main thrust. Chapter 4 is really an appendix to chapter 3; it shows how no parallel difficulties attend the constitution of experiential space/ because space is (unlike time) not transcendental. In chapter 5 I examine the commitments of the notion of the transcendental self/ whose existence was deduced in chapter 3 as a condition of freedom. In particular, I aim to show how that self inherits some of the difficulties of its parent concept of freedom; but also how a distinction between transcendental and empirical components in the self can help us with the problem of privacy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Agent (Philosophy) ; Experience ; Self (Philosophy)