McDowell's germans: Response to 'on Pippin's postscript'

European Journal of Philosophy 15 (3):411–434 (2007)
As McDowell makes clear in ‘On Pippin’s Postscript’ and in many other works, the interpretive question at issue in this exchange—how to understand the relation between Kant and Hegel, especially as that concerns Kant’s central ‘Deduction’ argument in the Critique of Pure Reason1—brings into the foreground an even larger problem on which all the others depend: the right way to understand at the highest level of generality the relation between active or spontaneous thought and our receptive and corporeal sensibility and bodily embodiment. From Mind and World on, McDowell has indicated that this is in fact a problem so inclusive as to be common to theoretical and practical philosophy; that the issue of how thought informs our sensibility is at bottom the same (raises the same logical or conceptual issue) as the issue of how thought could be said to inform, to be active ‘in’, bodily action; that we can be in the grip of the same bad, misleading picture in accounting for executing an intention as in accounting for acquiring perceptual knowledge.2 I agree with, and follow his lead in, setting the basic framework for the particular issues in just this way. With matters so set out, there are two main areas of disagreement: (i) how to state the role of concepts and especially conceptual activity in the sensible uptake of the world and (ii) what to make of Hegel’s claim for a speculative ‘identity’ between inner and outer in action, or how to state the role of intentions ‘in’ bodily activity. In both cases, McDowell thinks I go too far; too far in terms of what is philosophically correct, and too far in attributing those positions to Hegel. It is the former topic that is in play in this exchange, although elements of the latter arise as well. There is first an issue lingering from the first exchange in Reading McDowell.
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