August 2004, Polity
The guiding argument of the book is that the variety of
McDowell’s interests disguises a core concern with a single
basic goal: ‘giving philosophy peace’. Since the dawn
of the subject, philosophy has struggled with the question: can our
experience of the world give rational support to what we think and
say; and if so, how? McDowell claims that philosophy has itself to
blame if these questions seem problematic, and this book’s
animating purpose is to see what sense can be made of this
notorious claim. In McDowell’s view, the illusion that our
fundamental relations with the world are truly problematic is
traceable to false views about nature. We should give proper weight
to a natural fact about the world: that human beings are of a kind
that is naturally placed within the natural order.
De Gaynesford analyses McDowell’s densely argued and meticulous work in a lucid, balanced and engaging way, that will prove invaluable for all students and scholars of McDowell and philosophy.
Part I: Overview.
Part II: A Naturalism of Second Nature.
Part III: An Internationality of Second Nature.
Part IV: The Exercise of Second Nature.
Select Further Reading.
- A clear and accessible introduction to the work of one of the most influential philosophers writing today.
- It brings together the many strands of McDowell’s work and presents them in a unified form.
- This is the first full introduction to McDowell’s philosophical writings.
‘This elegant and rigorous book provides students and
scholars with an accessible, sympathetic and yet critical overview
of McDowell’s unusually demanding but highly influential body
of work. It will surely prove pivotal to future discussions, not
only of this author, but also of the central philosophical themes
with which he has been preoccupied.’ Stephen Mulhall,
University of Oxford
'...certainly a helpful introduction. The force and
direction of McDowell's thinking is best appreciated cumulatively -
his work is holistic not atomistic - and de Gaynesford provides a
comprehensive and informed means of situating it's various
'This book is a wonderful introduction to a very complex
philosopher. Gaynesford succeeds in both making McDowell accessible
while at the same time providing intersting suggestions for future
discussions. Suggested reading sorted according to topic is
provided at the end.'
Adonis Vidu, Emmanuel University, Oradea, Romania