Self-Knowledge, Theoretical Knowledge and Science

Yakir Levin


As part of his celebrated attack on the “Myth of the Given” Wilfrid Sellars argues
for a radical alternative to the orthodox conception of self-knowledge. On the
orthodox conception self-knowledge is a paradigm of non-theoretical knowledge. In
contrast, Sellars claims that self-knowledge is akin to theoretical knowledge in
science. At the same time he takes self-knowledge to illustrate the fact that the
distinction between the theoretical and the non-theoretical is merely methodological.
While these general points are made fairly clearly by Sellars, the argument that he
offers on their behalf is rather obscure. The main purpose of this paper is to
provide a clear reconstruction of Sellars' argument. But the paper also provides a
brief diagnosis of a crucial weakness in the argument due to which it is, ultimately,


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; self-knowledge; science; theory; non-discoursive foundationalism; non-discoursive formationism; behaviourism

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