Méditations Hégéliennes vs. Méditations Cartésiennes. Edmund Husserl and Wilfrid Sellars on the Given

  • Daniele De Santis
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 102)


The goal of the present text is to analyze some aspects of Husserl’s own phenomenology against the backdrop of the quite famous or infamous critique of the “Myth of the Given” proposed by the American philosopher Wilfrid Sellars in his Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. Indeed, whereas Sellars’ volume is usually deemed the (“textual” and “theoretical”) source of what has been recently referred to as the “Hegelian Renaissance” characterizing analytic philosophy, Husserl and his transcendental phenomenology are on the contrary seen as the very expression of a new “form” of “Cartesianism.” Now, after a quick discussion of Sellars’ “diagnosis” of the Myth of the Given, the present essay elaborates on the general “Hegelian” character of his argumentations (as they are understood by Robert Brandom); finally, an analysis of Husserl’s alleged Cartesianism in the late text known as Cartesian Meditations will be provided bearing upon the notions of “evidence” and “synthesis.” As we firmly believe, our remarks will show not only that Husserl does not at all fall prey to the “Myth,” but also that his understanding of the concept of reason can help us avoid some of the implications directly flowing from Sellars’ position.


Husserl Sellars Brandom McDowell Myth of the Given Cartesianism Hegelianism 



This work was supported by the European Regional Development Fund-Project “Creativity and Adaptability as Conditions of the Success of Europe in an Interrelated World” (No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000734).


  1. Aportone, Anselmo. 2011. Rationalism of Intuition. Kant and McDowell on the Relationship between Conceptual Capacities and Sensory Experience. Fogli di Filosofia 2: 75–89.Google Scholar
  2. Benoist, Jocelyn. 2004. “Le mythe du donné” et les avatars du kantisme analytique. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 4: 511–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brandom, Robert. 1994. Making it Explicit. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2000. Articulating Reasons. An Introduction to Inferentialism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2009. Reason in Philosophy. Animating Ideas. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2011. Perspectives on Pragmatism. Classical, Recent and Contemporary. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Carraud, Vincent. 2002. Causa sive ratio. La raison de la cause de Suarez à Leibniz. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  8. De Santis, Daniele. 2018a. “Metaphysische Ergebnisse:” Phenomenology and Metaphysics in Edmund Husserl’s Cartesianische Meditationen (§60). Attempt at Commentary. Husserl Studies 34: 63–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. ———. 2018b. Synthesis and Identity. Husserl on Kant’s Contribution to the History of Philosophy. In Husserl, Kant and the Idea of Transcendental Philosophy, ed. I. Apostolescu and C. Serban. Berlin: De Gryuter. (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2018c. Le conclusioni della filosofia del conoscere. Appunti sul programma razionalista di Husserl e Bontadini. Bolletino Filosofico 44: (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  11. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. 1959. Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie. Dritter Band. Stuttgart: Fr. Frommans Verlag.Google Scholar
  12. Husserl, Edmund. 1950a. Cartesianische Meditationen und Pariser Vorträge. Husserliana, ed. S. Stephan Strasser, vol. 1. Den Haag: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 1950b. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Erstes Buch. Husserliana, ed. Karl Schuhmann, vol. 3/1. Den Haag: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 1984a. Logische Untersuchungen. Erster Band: Prolegomena zur reinen Logik. Husserliana, ed. Elmar Holenstein, vol. 18. Den Haag: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1984b. Logische Untersuchungen. Zweiter Band. Erster Teil: Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis. Husserliana, vol. 19/1. Ursula Panzer. Den Haag: Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  16. Lanfredini, Roberta. 2012. La fenomenologia e il Mito del dato. In Attualità della fenomenologia, ed. Carmine Di Martino, 513–535. Milano: Rubbettino.Google Scholar
  17. McDowell, John. 1996. Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———. 2009. Having the World in View. Essays on Kant, Hegel and Sellars. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2011. Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Redding, Paul. 2007. Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rockmore, Tom. 2001. Analytic Philosophy and the Hegelian Turn. The Review of Metaphysics 55: 339–380.Google Scholar
  22. Schlick, Moritz. 1938. Gibt es ein materiales Apriori? In Gesammelte Aufsätze 1926–1936, 18–30. Wien: Gerold & Co. English trans. by W. Sellars, Is There a Factual a Priori? In Readings in Philosophical Analysis, ed. H. Feigl and W. Sellars, 277–285. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  23. Selivanov, Yury. 2012. The “Myth of the Given:” The Hegelian Meditations of Wilfrid Sellars. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26: 677–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sellars, Wilfrid. 1968. Science and Metaphysics. Variations on Kantian Themes. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. ———. 1997. Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. With an Introduction by R. Rorty and a Study Guide by R. Brandom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2002. Kant and Pre-Kantian Themes. Atascadero: Ridgeview Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 2007. In In the Space of Reasons. Selected Essays of Wilfrid Sellars, ed. K. Scharp and R.B. Brandom. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Soffer, Gail. 2003. Revisiting the Myth: Husserl and Sellars on the Given. The Review of Metaphysics 57 (2): 301–337.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele De Santis
    • 1
  1. 1.Charles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations