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Ideas of John McDowell, by Text

[New Zealand, b.1942, At Oxford University, and then Professor at Pittsburgh University]

1994 Mind and World
p.185 There is no pure Given, but it is cultured, rather than entirely relative
     Full Idea: McDowell argues that the Myth of the Given shows not that there is no content to a concept that is not a matter of its inferential relations to other concepts but only that awareness of the sort that we enjoy acquired in the course of acculturation.
     From: report of John McDowell (Mind and World [1994]) by Danielle Macbeth - Pragmatism and Objective Truth p.185
     A reaction: The first view is of Wilfred Sellars, who derives pragmatic relativism from his rejection of the Myth. This idea is helpful is seeing why McDowell has a good proposal. As I look out of my window, my immediate experience seems 'cultured'.
p.456 Representation must be propositional if it can give reasons and be epistemological
     Full Idea: McDowell has claimed that one cannot make sense of representation that plays a role in epistemology unless one takes the representation to be propositional, and thus capable of yielding reasons.
     From: report of John McDowell (Mind and World [1994]) by Tyler Burge - Philosophy of Mind: 1950-2000 p.456
     A reaction: A transcendental argument leads back to a somewhat implausible conclusion. I suspect that McDowell has a slightly inflated (Kantian) notion of the purity of the 'space of reasons'. Do philosophers just imagine their problems?
I.6 p.18 Sense impressions already have conceptual content
     Full Idea: The world's impressions on our senses are already possessed of conceptual content.
     From: John McDowell (Mind and World [1994], I.6)
     A reaction: This is a key idea of McDowell's, which challenges most traditional empiricist views, and (maybe) offers a solution to the rationalist/empiricist debate. His commitment to the 'space of reasons' strikes me as an optional extra.
I.7 p.20 Forming concepts by abstraction from the Given is private definition, which the Private Lang. Arg. attacks
     Full Idea: The idea that concepts can be formed by abstraction from the Given just is the idea of private ostensive definition. So the Private Language Argument just is the rejection of the Given, in so far as it bears on the possibilities for language.
     From: John McDowell (Mind and World [1994], I.7)
     A reaction: I'm not clear why the process of abstraction from raw impressions shouldn't be a matter of public, explicit, community negotiation. We seem to be able to share and compare fairly raw impressions without much trouble (discussing sunsets).
Intro 7 p.-9 The logical space of reasons is a natural phenomenon, and it is the realm of freedom
     Full Idea: The logical space of reasons is just part of the logical space of nature. ...And, in a Kantian slogan, the space of reasons is the realm of freedom.
     From: John McDowell (Mind and World [1994], Intro 7)
     A reaction: [second half on p.5] This is a modern have-your-cake-and-eat-it view of which I am becoming very suspicious. The modern Kantians (Davidson, Nagel, McDowell) are struggling to naturalise free will, but it won't work. Just dump it!