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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 12, Issue 1, Spring 2007

Piotr K. Szałek
Pages 87-103
DOI: 10.5840/forphil200712124

The Notion of Conceptualized Experience in John McDowell's

In this paper I would like to asses critically McDowell's argument to the effect that all experience is conceptualized and explain the role that this thesis plays within his general philosophical project. It has been argued that McDowell's conception of experience leads to idealism. I will demonstrate why this charge could be made and whether it is a charge which McDowell can adequately respond to. The paper will clarify McDowell's conception of conceptualized experience, and evaluate its efficacy for his philosophical aim. In order to accomplish these goals, the paper will contain the following two components: (1) a reconstruction of McDowell's position, and (2) its critical analysis. To reconstruct the position of McDowell, I will try (i) to establish his motives (i.e. avoiding the collapse into the Myth of the Given or coherentism), and (ii) the sources of inspiration for his thought and its and context (the Kantian categories of receptivity and spontaneity; the thought of D. Davidson, W. Sellars, G. Evans and Ch. Peacocke); (iii) and to explain his arguments (i.e. the general idea of the unboundedness of the conceptual, and the arguments against existence of non-conceptual content) and his defence against the charge of idealism. In order to critically analyse his position, I will try to evaluate it in terms of whether his defence against the objections to his proposal, in particular the charge of idealism, is successful.