Crossing the line: Sellars on Kant on imagination


After Science and Metaphysics, Sellars’ encounter with Kant was characterized by acknowledging and working out the role played by imagination in perceptual experience. The mediating imaginative function provided him with a somewhat new and more Kantian account of the relationship between concepts and intuitions. After stressing the peculiar theoretical and exegetical background of Sellars’ approach to Kant – his project of “translating” his own ideas in the lingua franca of Kantianism – which has been influential in current normative interpretations of Kant, I will raise the following question: could imagination represent a solution to the Kant-Sellars problem of a «happy medium» between a conceptual-normative and a non-conceptual side of experience? As a mediating device, I will then suggest, imagination can be seen as a third way between two well-known theoretical strategies for facing Sellars’ dichotomy adopted by two prominent left-wing Sellarsians: doing without intuitions (Brandom) or fusing concept and intuitions (McDowell). Both of these strategies have given rise to respective interpretations of Kant. By suggesting a third way, I will also gesture toward a possible role for imagination within a conceptual account of intuition à la McDowell.