An intellectual primer for reading one of the most challenging contemporary philosophers.
John McDowell's contribution to philosophy has ranged across Greek philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. His writings have drawn from Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Sellars, and Davidson. In an exceptional exegesis suitable for advanced undergraduates, Tim Thornton has constructed a careful account of McDowell's main claims.
Highlighting the interconnections between McDowell's arguments, Thornton shows how his individual projects are unified in a post-Kantian context that articulates the preconditions of thought and language. Thornton's exposition of Mind and World and the differing strands of McDowell's broader philosophical vision provides an interpretative and critical framework that will help shape ongoing debates. He also discusses McDowell's work on ethical judgments, theories of sense, meaning, truth, the role of experience in epistemology, and Wittgenstein's discussion of normativity and considers whether McDowell's therapeutic approach to philosophy, which owes much to the later Wittgenstein, is consistent with the substance of McDowell's discussion of nature, which uses the vocabulary of other philosophers, particularly Kant.