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Mind and World Free read õ PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ↠ Modern Philosophy finds it difficult to give a satisfactory picture of the place of minds in the world In Mind and World based on the 1991 John Locke Lectures one of the most distinguished philosophers writing today offers his diagnosis of thisIon of nature that has certain attractions for the modern age a conception that McDowell proposes to put aside thus circumventing these philosophical difficulties By returning to a pre modern conception of nature but retaining the intellectual advance of modernity that has mistakenly been viewed as dislodging it he makes room for a fully satisfying conception of experience as a rational openness to independent reality This approach also overcomes other obstacles that impede a generally satisfying understanding of how we are placed in the wor. There are two major prongs to this book How much the second depends on the first is potentially a substantive issue1 How to conceive the epistemology of perception such that perception leads to beliefs in a way that avoids Sellars's Myth of the Given as well as a Davidsonian coherentism2 How to conceive the relationship between reason and nature such that responsiveness to reason does not clash with our understanding of natureAt this point in time I am not wholly convinced by the answers McDowell gives to either uestions But I still found this book highly valuable as a way of understanding the conceptual territory offering intriguing albeit perhaps flawed solutions and thinking through the mission of modern analytic philosophy If I hadn't just finished Ned Block's book The Border Between Seeing and Thinking I probably would have been much amenable to McDowell's view that perception is conceptual but in comparison to Block's highly detailed and empirically based arguments McDowell's version of things felt awfully hand wavy I do think his layout of the problem space is immensely helpful If we adopt something like Block's view of the split between non conceptual perception and conceptual perceptual judgment does that lead us to the Myth If so I would like to see it spelled out in detail exactly where the problem lies If that does not lead us into the Myth how should we think about the evidential relationships Do perceptions justify perceptual judgments or since perceptual judgments are causally elicited by perceptions are we in a Davidson style framework I'm not sure how to answer these uestions and I think there are similar interesting uestions that McDowell makes salient for thinking through the prospects of predictive coding or even for reading Kant which I'm not sure McDowell does entirely fairlyThe second prong of the book is even hand wavy but perhaps plausible and attentive to what is the central modern philosophical uestion I don't think McDowell's invocation of second nature Bildung and Aristotelian ethics are at all spelled out in a way that is explanatory But I think that is perhaps the point and to ask for them to be explanatory posits would miss the direction of McDowell's thought If so I don't think McDowell's views are really going much beyond Wittgenstein or even that different from someone like Daniel Dennett's but I do think they are a highly attractive meta ethical view if one can even deign to call it that McDowell's presentation of said view is probably less explanatorily convincing than something like Dennett's and less aesthetically pleasing than something like Wittgenstein's but does fill somewhat of a happy medium between the two I found it enjoyable to read I don't think it will serve to answer someone who is not convinced by an ethical uietism the part of myself that is skeptical does not feel persuaded But McDowell's conception works as an elaboration of what I think is one of the better approaches out there Lots could be said about this consult notes which I think is the biggest source of value in this book McDowell's sense of philosophical lineage allows him to delineate problem spaces in a highly fruitful way I'm not sure any of the solutions he comes up with are all that great his style deservedly receives obscurantist criticism and his views are far constructive than he would like to admit Yet I am still very glad I read this volume and it will help inform my thinking about the epistemological ethical and meta philosophical uestions he considers Of course there is a part of me that is persuaded by his meta philosophical convictions and annoyed with myself for even thinking through the book in the terms I lay out above

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Modern Philosophy finds it difficult to give a satisfactory picture of the place of minds in the world In Mind and World based on the 1991 John Locke Lectures one of the most distinguished philosophers writing today offers his diagnosis of this difficulty and points to a cure In doing so he delivers the most complete and ambitious statement to date of his own views a statement that no one concerned with the future of philosophy can afford to ignoreJohn McDowell amply illustrates a major problem of modern philosophy the insidious persistence. I've only been reading philosophy for four years at the time of writing so this opinion should be taken with substantial salt but this is without a doubt my favorite work of philosophy I've now read it three four times each enlightening and understandable than the last McDowell beautifully and brilliantly argues for a picture of our relationship to the world that respects the indisiputable advances of modern science especially its driving teleology out of the realm of law without losing grasp on the relevant notions of freedom and intentionality that those advances can seem to threaten This lays the groundwork for his work in other areas eg metaethicsThe book consists of an introduction very mildly edited versions of his 1991 John Locke lectures six chapters the main body of the book and a substantial afterword examining the relationship between his thought and Davidson's thought as well as Rorty's—McDowell is excellent at separating the good points Rorty makes from the fashionable relativism and expanding on various points from the lectures Because this is basically the print record of his lectures various aspects of the writing betray its origin as lectures This is most noticeable in the degree of repetition McDowell had to put forth extremely complex ideas orally with lectures separated by a week between them McDowell thus spends a lot of time summarizing arguments he's made previously I find this repetition extraordinarily helpful Even in print where re reading is possible the ideas are difficult and having the relevant aspects summarized as they are needed makes it much much easier to get a grasp on them Some may find it annoying—I find it one of the book's virtuesOne criticism of the book I've seen and heard with some freuency is this the writing is too opaue to really present McDowell's ideas clearly As I've read and re read the book I've moved from agreeing with this criticism to understanding it in a detached way without agreeing with it I find this criticism to be primarily a reflection of the fact that there is a reasonably steep learning curve for understanding both McDowell's ideas and the language in which he presents them Now that I am acclimated to both I in fact find that McDowell writes with a crystalline clarity that's very rare in philosophy both in the sense that he understands the interconnections between relevant issues clearly than most and in that he describes these interconnections lucidly than most Compare Mind and World to the work of someone like Putnam Putnam's language may seem clearer but his ideas often are not in ways not unrelated to the seeming surface clarity of his writing Or hell compare it to Kant or Sellars two of the giants on whose shoulders McDowell stands I find him much much clearer than either without any loss in profundityReturn to the philosophical content of the book I'd like to briefly offer an apologia for some flaws Because of its origin in lectures McDowell is unable to address every relevant issue very understandable and occasionally glosses far too briefly over an issue that in fact is much demanding The clearest example of this in my mind is the discussion in lecture six of the issue of fallibility of perception and the threat that this will lead to skeptical problems McDowell insists that it does not lead to such problems and he hints at why It's possible to see how this hinted at but unpresented argument fits into a form similar to others presented in the book though McDowell doesn't make this explicit But the discussion actually present in the book is itself clearly insufficient And I think there's an extent to which that's simply a feature of the origin in lectures of the book Elsewhere Perception as a Capacity for Knowledge McDowell does tackle the issue extremely well I might add So in reading the book I suggest you keep in mind that it's not of a sort that McDowell could address all the relevant issues fully and at times he does have to merely hint at arguments he doesn't do this for the most central issues however The book cannot stand alone sufficient by itself It reuires the context of the rest of McDowell's philosophy which fleshes out implications and provides arguments for key positions that figure in Mind and World but which are insufficiently defendedThe book is probably really only for the philosophy aficionado but for such a person it's downright essential

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Mind and WorldOf dualism in his discussion of empirical thought Much as we would like to conceive empirical thought as rationally grounded in experience pitfalls await anyone who tries to articulate this position and McDowell exposes these traps by exploiting the work of contemporary philosophers from Wilfrid Sellars to Donald Davidson These difficulties he contends reflect an understandable but surmountable failure to see how we might integrate what Sellars calls the logical space of reasons into the natural world What underlies this impasse is a concept. I disagree with the author but I must admit the book contains many great insightsThe book revisits the Kantian idea that perception must be shaped by our conceptual capacities our capacity for reason freedom and language It builds a carefully constructed case by engaging with contemporary authors but the basic premise is a form of neo Kantian epistemology To be clear I do NOT have an objection to this Kantian project only to McDowell's formulation of itHis central claim That in order to show how perception can ground judgment eg belief we must be able to say that the same capacities must operate in perception that operate in our higher faculties To sum up the mind is in touch with reality which has conceptual form directly and this is possible because we are rational animals whose faculties are shaped by that rationalityTowards that Aristotelean conclusion McDowell combines Kant Wittgenstein and HegelThe Kantian element is obvious and pervasive since the very notion of conceptual capacities and the epistemological problematic derives fundamentally from Kant's 1st CritiueThe Wittgensteinian element is subtle but it is reflected in McDowell's aim to do therapy to bad philosophy by showing that we shouldn't be led astray by false problems and in his methodology to refuse doing positive philosophy in the sense of formulating new paradigms He wishes to justify common sense realism and to show that epistemology is non problematic But this gets complicated once we combine the Kantian Hegelian and Davidsonian pictures to itThe Hegelian elements are rather underdeveloped He suggests that absolute idealism and common sense must ultimately coincide And his philosophy could be read as common sense Hegelianism But these elements are rather suppressed perhaps because Kant Wittgenstein and the analytical tradition are foregrounded But this should not come as a big surprise it would be difficult to really combine the three into a synthesis where ALL the parts were eually represented A McDowell thesis with Hegel foregrounded would look rather differentIn addition contemporarily people like Davidson uine Evans and Rorty form the immediate setting of the argument McDowell does not write in a vacuum He engages with living and dead authorsThe book is a competent and at times brilliant work but it has many problems1 Since it is based on a lecture structure it repeats itself WAY too much2 The writing is dry tedious and mostly boring Not very joyous3 Some of his central arguments are way too obscure There's too much technical jargon4 The unholy admixture of Kant Wittgenstein and Hegel while interesting is a bit monstrous5 By claiming that he is only doing therapy to poor philosophy he can hide behind a doctor's attitude6 For an analytical philosopher his style is often uite hermetic mysterious even dogmatic He rarely justifies his premisesThe seventh and last point I wish to treat separately because it is the most important7 The book is permeated with the notion that human beings are not just animals because we have rationality By rationality he means the Aristotelean notion that humans are rational animals combined with the Cartesian Kantian notion that the mind of humans is essentially an I think that posits the world However after Darwin to claim that human beings are ESSENTIALLY superior in all our perception and thinking to other animals because we are rational animals is a suspect notion This would reuire a whole rebuttal but suffice it to say that McDowell has serious problems here since this notion underlies and motivates his whole epistemology This is not a slam dunk case against him but it means we perhaps need some modifications or softenings to his thesis that human beings are essentially motivated by reasons while animals are motivated by mere environmental inputs neither of which statement seems self evidentI think the book ultimately fails because it is built upon faulty premises However this should not blind us to the fact that McDowell is an interesting philosopher The proposed project of synthesizing Kant Hegel Wittgenstein and contemporary analytical philosophy is a fruitful one I believe or hope that if one were to combine his central insights which are fascinating with a bit of Freud and Darwin one would be getting closer to a true rendering of the human experiencePS McDowell's later work addresses some of the shortcomings of this book but doesn't completely extricate itself from its hyper rationalist framework of the human mind At least he is persistent and consistent I find his later work plausible or less obviously wrong So I would recommend you search out some of his later essays