The place of evolution in the philosophy of Roy Wood Sellars
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The question --- whether a biological concept, such as evolution, can have a profound effect in such a remote field of study as professional philosophy --- must begin with a discussion of what evolution means to biologists, and did mean at the time the philosopher in question was formulating his philosophy. The names of Lamarck, Darwin, and DeVries stand for three theories of the method of evolution, current at the time Sellars was formulating his metaphysics; and there was no acceptable way of choosing among them. However, all were agreed that evolution had occurred and by evolution they meant a continuous chain of descent accompanied by modification of inheritance until new species had been formed. Since Sellars does, as most philosophers do, have his own vocabulary of special terms, the need of a glossary is indicated, to contain terms as: thing, existent, datum, content, perception, category, thinghood, intuit, knowledge, object, correspond, physical, law, connection, continuity, structure, function, organism, system, emergence, time, explanation, history, and cumulation. The thorough explanation of these terms acts to describe, to a considerable extent, Sellars' philosophy. However, another separate chapter is necessary to give an adequate picture of Sellars' metaphysics, epistemology, unification of the sciences, approach to the mind-body problem, emphasis on evolution, and rejection of God. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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