The latest video in the Sophia “Dan & Massimo” series covered a philosopher you likely never heard of, and yet you should. We talked about Wilfrid Sellars (1912-1989), who had a big influence on Dan and who I discovered only relatively recently, to my delight.
Sellars is perhaps most famous for his distinction between what he called the “scientific image” and the “manifest image” of the world, meaning our understanding of how things are from, respectively, the scientific and the commonsense standpoints.
Sellars’ lifelong project was to articulate how we should see the relationship between these two “images” of the world, a project that may well be understood as one of the main ongoing goals of modern philosophy.
Sellars didn’t subordinate either standpoint to the other: that’s because while scientific knowledge is, in fact, more sophisticated than everyday knowledge at describing the world, it tells us relatively little about a lot of things we care about and can’t do without, like values and normativity.
In the end, Sellars said that we need to develop a kind of “stereoscopic” vision, being able to simultaneously hold the scientific and manifest images in front of us, integrating them in a way that makes sense for a human being. It is, of course, a compromise between scientism and irrationalism that I very much appreciate and have made — as readers of this blog know very well –my own major project in recent years.