A Kantian Response to Sellars’s Criticism of the Myth of the Given

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One of the greatest followers of Kant, Wilfrid Sellars, who considered himself as an author of variations on Kantian themes, criticizes Kant for his myth of the given. The myth argues, inter alia, that we have a direct awareness of perception data, whereas, Sellars argues we cannot have any such direct awareness, for our intellect and its categories must be involved in any of our awareness. This criticism may be attached to Quine’s holism and his repudiation of the synthetic/analytic distinction (even though Sellars disagreed with Quine and Davidson over essential matters). Nevertheless, I suggest a Kantian answer to this criticism, an answer that pertain to Kant’s conception of reason as a coherent system, namely of all our a priori conceptions, which are united. Kant does not accept Cartesian or Euclidean foundationalism, and this means that even though he was not a holistic thinker such as Quine, Sellars, and even Hegel, he was neither a foundationalist, which means that in the background of any “immediate” awareness there must be the presence of our reason as a systematic, unified whole. Hence, in this way Kant is exempt from the myth of the given.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Studies Series
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Studies Series
ISSN (Print)0921-8599
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8349

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Foundationalism
  • Quine’s holism
  • Reason as a coherent, united system
  • The myth of the given
  • The synthetic/analytic distinction
  • Wilfrid Sellars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Language and Linguistics


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