On thinking and the world : John McDowell's 'Mind and World'
How do concepts mediate the relation between minds and the world? This is the main topic of John McDowell's Mind and World where McDowell attempts to dissolve a number of dualisms making use of a particular philosophical methodology which I identify as a version of Wittgenstein's quietism. This thesis consists of a critical analysis of a number of dualisms which McDowell attempts to dissolve in Mind and World. These include the Kantian dualism of sensibility and understanding, the dualism of conceptual versus non conceptual content, the dualism of scheme and content and the dualism of reason and nature. These dichotomies are all intricately intertwined and can be seen to be subsumed by the main topic of this thesis, namely, thinking and the world. McDowell persuasively draws attention to the unsustainability of particular philosophical positions between which philosophers have 'oscillated' such as coherentism and the given. However I claim that he does not go far enough in his attempt as a quietist to achieve peace for philosophy as traditional dichotomies such as that of realism and anti-realism still appear to exert a grip on his thinking. In this regard, 1 argue that, although McDowell’s work indicates the viability of quietism in addressing seemingly intractable philosophical positions, it would have gained by incorporating insights from European phenomenologists, such as Heidegger, who have been as intent as McDowell on reworking traditional dualisms. McDowell’s quietist methodology plays an important role in Mind and World and some of the criticism that has been directed towards his work displays a lack of appreciation of this method. I claim that a proper understanding of McDowell's version of quietism is important for a correct understanding of this text.