Bildung, Meaning, and Reasons

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By endorsing that Bildung is a condition for thought, McDowell explicitly sets out to revive a theme in classical german philosophy. As long as the concept of Bildung is intended to play a role in McDowell’s theory of meaning and reasons, however, it is best understood in the light of its distinctive combination of neo-Fregeanism about content and Wittgensteinianism about rule-following. The Fregean part is there to warrant that reasons are objective, the Wittgensteinian move is to account for our grasping of reasons. I argue that, as it stands, the project can hardly succeed. According to this reading, Bildung not only provides the epistemic resources to access reasons. It shapes them in a way that is in tension with the idea that reasons are objective. I conclude with a guess about the amendment needed to keep the project in the air.
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Archival date: 2013-11-13
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