Jörg Volbers
Freie Universität Berlin
Dewey’s pragmatism and John McDowell’s philosophy of language share central concerns. They defend a naturalistic vision of the mind (“second nature”) and rely on the concept of experience in order to articulate the contact between mind and world. They differ, though, in their understanding of how the human mind can relate spontaneously to itself and to the world. McDowell links this freedom exclusively to language with the consequence of detaching it from any reflexive determination, turning it into an abstract given. Dewey, by contrast, develops a practice-oriented understanding of freedom and understanding as an essentially precarious cultural form. This allows him to incorporate the reflexive dimension of mental operations, of which McDowell takes no account: It makes a practical difference how the human being conceives its own nature and its own mind.
Keywords Reflexivity  Second Nature  Philosophy of Language  Philosophy of Mind  Freedom  Rational Autonomy
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DOI 10.1515/dzph-2015-0077
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