The Myth of the Given

Diary 8/10 to 8/12/22: Dream of Monopoly; weight woes; petty “depression”; reading my diary; dictionaries; pissy mood; gym gear; Wilfred or Wilfrid?

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{8/10/22} continued.

I finished dictating and cleaning up the Highsmith quotes, the ones most important to me.  It’s 8:00 pm.  I did some good work today, and also pissed away two hours or so on Family Guy.  I think I’ll read until 9:00.


A dream.  I was playing Monopoly in a large room with several tables, perhaps a jail dayroom.  It was my turn.  I accidentally dropped a die and it came up 1.  I picked up the die and rolled both dice, and the result was 1 & 1:  “snake eyes.”  I looked at the board and somehow thought it was backwards, a mirror image of the normal board, or something else wrong, but then my brain flipped or ? and I moved the token two spaces, landing on Community Chest.  The card said to “advance token to nearest railroad and pay owner twice…”  I owed $800 (impossible in Monopoly).  Looked at my meager holdings and thought I was on the verge of bankruptcy.  I woke up.

My weight this morning is 217.8, the highest this year and up about six pounds from where I was a few months ago.  This is distressing and I think I mainly owe this to minor bingeing on graham crackers.  Yesterday was typical:  with breakfast I ate half of one of the three-packs; after breakfast I ate the rest of it.  That’s altogether about 560 calories and 500 mg of sodium, or 280 extra calories and 250 extra mg of sodium.  Yesterday I counted this as “lunch.”  Not exactly a catastrophe (unlike the dream), but whenever I open a pack of these crackers, this result is apparently irresistible.  No portion control—which should be the solution.  My thinking is that “I can’t afford to gain any more.”

122,220 words in this document, 230 pages, as calculated by MS Word.

“Depression” Photo by Pixabay on

Another cause for depression, if I wanted a cause:  followed up a “like” from a blogger I hadn’t seen before, saw his good but way-too-long post (in my opinion), saw nine good, literate comments and over 90 “likes.”  Yeesh.  ‘Course, this blogger has published two novels…so I guess I’m lucky to be where I am with my blog.

Yesterday’s “salt mines” did not include any writing; mostly I read this year’s diary that I printed on the 9th and watched news.  I didn’t go out, didn’t want to go out, don’t want to go out today (Thursday), don’t want to go out tomorrow…this body right now doesn’t know what it wants, except:  to have written two novels and be getting nine literate comments on my next blog entry.  Of course I’m blowing this out of proportion, it’s not like this blogger is J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, or even Cindy effing Crabb.  And would I want to be any of those people?  (Hell, yeah.)

I should shut up at this point, or better, two paragraphs ago.

I mostly like Webster’s New World College Dictionary that I bought “first thing” after getting out of prison.  The only problem is that it’s “always” in the other room.  So I got an Oxford little dictionary, which isn’t bad and was $0.50, but the pronunciation guide uses that international symbol set that I never learned; so I got a “pocket” paperback version of the WNW dictionary, and it’s not quite the ticket either, because it doesn’t list people or give the atomic number of elements.  Like I need that in a dictionary when I have the periodic table in my mini-BuJo.

But I am in a pissy mood this morning.  This would be a good time for Apple to be in a pissy mood with Fynn, wouldn’t it?  I’ll try it.

Went to Wal-Mart and spent $131.28, mostly on gear for the gym (shoes, shorts, shirts, a bag that converts to a backpack, and a combination lock).  Also bought a sudoku book.  8.25% sales tax amounted to $9.70; the State of California charges 7.25%; apparently the extra 1% is due to the city of Bakersfield (because it’s not a Kern County tax), which I often tell myself, “hates poor people.” [The bag is kinda huge and will make me feel like an idiot, probably.]


Arriving in the mail yesterday was Wilfrid Sellars:  Science, Perception and Reality, and I spent more than an hour reading the first essay, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man.”  It was tough going but quite fascinating and perhaps useful—an introduction to metaphilosophy (though Sellars doesn’t use the word).  A real mental workout.  I want to try it again, perhaps today.  I’m quite excited about it.

“Headache” or “The Joys of Metaphilosophy” Photo by Keira Burton on

The book itself looks like a print-on-demand job, but I don’t think it is.  No references or notes, no index. [And plainest possible cover.]

Richard Rorty talks in The Linguistic Turn about Sellars and his “myth of the given,” and singles out this book as a source [maybe not; see below].  I have come across this expression elsewhere, and it seems of some importance in late twentieth-century philosophy.  I’m just glad that the book (so far) is quite “readable,” though I did no highlighting yesterday, realizing that I’d want to tackle it again soon (which doesn’t really explain why no highlighting).

The Oxford Guide to Philosophy, Ted Honderich (ed.), Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, says this about “the myth of the given”:  “Expression introduced by Wilfred Sellars to suggest there is no uninterpreted content of experience that is foundational in epistemology: e.g. Locke’s ideas, Hume’s impressions, the sense-data of the Logical Positivists. The myth of the given implies that facts can in principle be known non-inferentially. No non-influentially known fact presupposes knowledge of any other fact or general truth. Such non-inferentially known facts are ultimately authoritative. The attack on the given is arguably anticipated by Vico and Kant.” p. 636, entry by “Mr. Stephen Priest, University of Oxford.”

This explanation is far from satisfactory, in my opinion.  I find that the above Sellars book is referenced in the OGP entry.  Perhaps I was wrong about Rorty…


The entry for Sellars is also worth quoting:  “Wilfred Sellars (1912-89).  American philosopher noted for his thoroughgoing investigations in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. He distinguishes between the manifest image of man as a being with beliefs, desires, and intentions, and the scientific image of him as an embodied being subject to study by physicists, biochemists, and physiologists. The task of reconciling these two images is a major problem in the philosophy of mind. Typical of Sellars’s own approach to the problem is his verbal behaviourist account of thought and meaning in terms of the functional role of linguistic items. [cross reference omitted] Thought is inner speech which is modelled on overt speech, and overt speech is the exercise of a capacity to use words and sentences appropriately in relation to the world and to each other. Thus nothing repugnant to the scientific image is evoked.”

Works of Sellars referenced:  Essays in Philosophy and Its History; Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.

Attentive readers will have noticed that the spelling of “Wilfred” or “Wilfrid” is inconsistent between the books discussed.  Wikipedia shows “Wilfrid” and gives his middle name as “Stalker.”

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s