Normative Answerability of Experience and Retrospective Enchantment of Nature

Yujian ZHENG

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paperpeer-review


Disenchantment of the world in the philosophical sense (rather than merely in Weberian sociological sense) is directly related to the scientific revolution and its unprecedented achievements since 17th century which seem to reveal an undeniable fact, i.e., nature is a law-governed realm. In this realm, nothing is outside causal relationship which implies the necessity of happenings, or the absence of any freedom-related meanings. And once you also accept that human beings belong to nature, a logical conclusion must be that mental phenomena with all their products can be nothing other than determined effects of causal laws. On the other hand, however, meaningful everyday life of human beings takes place in a different space, "different" in the sense that it is governed by reasons (as opposed to physical causes) or intentions, decisions based on reasons. This is what Wilfrid Sellars called "space of reasons" (in contrast, the above realm of laws may be called "space of causes"). What is distinctive of reasons is their origination from and sensitivity to normative relations variously deep-embedded in the social existence of human beings. There are good reasons or bad reasons - this means not only that reason invocation should be dictated by certain normative criteria (e.g., logic rules) but also that it's perfectly possible to violate the latter in one's actual exercise of reasons. It is exactly such a possibility of error or mistake, relative to a certain norm, that makes us free from causal helplessness and hence categorically distinct from non-rational beings. Now the challenging question becomes: how can we connect the above two spaces, i.e., the space of reasons vs. that of causes, if neither of them is deniable?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2006
EventConference on McDowell's Philosophy (Contemporary Philosophers Serial 2006) - National Tsing Hua University, Xing Zhu, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 8 Mar 20069 Mar 2006,r4410-1.php?Lang=zh-tw


ConferenceConference on McDowell's Philosophy (Contemporary Philosophers Serial 2006)
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China
CityXing Zhu
OtherInstitute of Philosophy, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
Internet address


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