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Mind and World Paperback – October 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0674576100 ISBN-10: 0674576101 Edition: 1st Harvard University Press paperback ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st Harvard University Press paperback ed edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674576101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674576100
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Ever since Descartes, a lot of the very best philosophers have thought of science as an invading army from whose depredations safe havens have somehow to be constructed. Philosophy patrols the borders, keeping the sciences "intellectually respectable" by keeping them "within...proper bounds." But you have to look outside these bounds if what you care about is the life of the spirit or the life of the mind. McDowell's is as good a contemporary representative of this kind of philosophical sensibility as you could hope to find. (Jerry Fodor London Review of Books)

A powerfully impressive book which simply towers over the more routine contributions of current analytical philosophy. (Simon Glendinning Radical Philosophy)

McDowell locates an important tension in our thinking about thought, suggests an attractive way of easing the tension, and offers a plausible diagnosis of why the tension is acute...Mind and World is a genuinely provocative book that should be discussed. (Paul M. Pietroski Canadian Journal of Philosophy)

About the Author

John McDowell is University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.

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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Flounder on November 19, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This text with its new Introduction clearly demonstrates McDowell's prominence in American philosophy. McDowell is certainly one of the most important, careful, and creative minds in the field. Mind and World is crucial reading material on perceptual content, judgment, and experience.
Inspired by Sellars's Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, McDowell interrogates the notion of a 'logical space of reasons' as having location in the natural world. At times adopting an obscure and abstract prose style, McDowell nevertheless identifies specific anxieties concerning the realtion between mind and world: tensions between a Kantian sensible intuition (or 'minimal empiricism')--how our thoughts are answerable to and directed at the world--and the idea of receiving an impression (or Kantian humility) as a transaction with the world, placing it in a 'logical space of reasons.' So there is a tension between a normative context, that is, how the world 'impinges' on us, which is within the logical space of reasons, and empirical concepts that are supposed to be within the logical space of nature. But if we take Sellars seriously, identifying something as an impression--an economy of logical space of nature 'giving' or 'impinging' on the mind, then we are responsible to characterize just how an 'impinging world' is different from justifying or placing a verdict on empirical descriptions. McDowell's tension is between a 'minimal empiricism'--thought is answerable to a tribunal of experience--and how experience is indeed a tribunal, which attributes verdicts on thoughts.
Along the way, McDowell critiques the Myth of the Given, Davidson's coherentism, and argues for 'direct realism.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Rubard on March 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Logical grammar concerns itself with "functors", devices that transform parts of language into other parts. For example, predicates combine with names of objects to form sentences. One of the less-celebrated functor types is the "subnector", which transforms sentences into terms: returning from the complex to the simple. *Mind and World* is a subnector of a book. The philosophical issues it engages with are central ones, but they are developed against a background of baroque analytical machinery. In other words, you really have to know in quite a bit of detail what several difficult figures had to say before McDowell's own concerns are at all clear.

This should not be surprising, given that the book was originally the 1991 John Locke Lectures at Oxford: these lectures are delivered yearly to professional philosophers who have formalized theories and intricate arguments well in hand, but are looking to re-evaluate the "big picture" of the philosophical enterprise. McDowell accordingly polemically bases his presentation on philosophers he was closely linked to in earlier work, Donald Davidson and Gareth Evans. McDowell has elsewhere spent a great deal of energy defending and refining their ideas, but the emphasis here is on his divergence from them concerning the role of concepts in our experience of the world.

Beginning from Wilfrid Sellars' rejection of givenness, yet serious about maintaining the objective purport of perception, McDowell aims to vindicate a view of experience derived from Kant: that experience requires the exercise of conceptual capacities (such as the ability to discriminate facts about the object which might be true of other objects) and an element corresponding to Kantian "intuitions", the influence of independent realities.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer R. Howell on May 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
John McDowell's insight on how we acquire conceptual knowledge of the external world is brilliant. Basing his argument on the Kantian conception of receptitivity and spontaneity, John McDowell not only eases the philosophical anxiety of acquiring conceptual capacities and the epistemic role experience plays by destroying the need for the anxiety at all. I recommend this for any person interested in philosophy that is constructive and not just a response to someone else's question. McDowell, unlike most philosophers in our age, is not just picking at a niggling point, he is bringing fresh ideas to the philosophical table.
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