Hegel and McDowell on Perceptual Experience and Judgment

When:5 May 2015, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Paul Redding (University of Sydney)
Paul Redding.jpg


In a paper first published in 2008, “Avoiding the Myth of the Given”, John McDowell retracted a prominent feature of the view advanced earlier in Mind and World about the nature of perceptual experience. Insisting that conceptual powers are drawn upon in perceptual experience, McDowell had construed the contents of perceptual experience as propositional, but in retrospect he thinks this was mistaken. While he had wanted to avoid the unhelpful alternative of an empiricist acceptance of the “Myth of the Given” and the type of coherentist reaction to it found in the work of Donald Davidson, in assuming the propositionality of experience McDowell had in fact accepted too much of the Davidsonian coherentist picture.

In this paper I argue that what had gone wrong in Mind and World is best diagnosed from an Hegelian perspective rather than from the Kantian one McDowell continues to defend. Besides having an epistemological role, Kant had attributed to intuitions the modal role of differentiating actuality from mere possibility, but the relations between these roles are unclear. Here I use parallels between Hegel’s approach to modality and Robert Stalnaker’s recent “actualist” alternative to David Lewis’s approach to modality to show how Hegel could avoid the alternatives with which McDowell struggled in Mind and World.

About Paul Redding

Paul Redding is Professor of philosophy at the University of Sydney and holds a DORA Research fellowship from the Australian Research Council. He works mainly in the areas of Kantian philosophy and the tradition of continental idealism. He is especially interested in the relationship of this tradition to the later movements of analytic philosophy and pragmatism, and in issues in idealist logic, philosophical psychology and philosophy of religion. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Light lunch will be served.

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