Intuitional Content or Avoiding the Myth of the Given–A Dilemma for McDowell

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McDowell’s “Avoiding the Myth of the Given” (2008, 2009) attempts to reconcile two claims: 1) what we most fundamentally experience is a fundamental level of invariable simple objects and their sensible properties; experience of these objects and properties is the ultimate ground of our knowledge of the world; 2) experience is through-and-through conceptually structured. This leads McDowell to endorsing the incoherent notion of intuitional content–necessary and thus irrevisable basic empirical conceptually structured contents or empirical categories. The notion requires the necessity and irrevisability of purely formal concepts and the on-going responsiveness to experience of empirical concepts. This reveals a dilemma: If the fundamental objects of experience are invariable then they cannot have empirically conceptual form; for revisability is a mark of the empirically conceptual. But purely formal concepts cannot give us the fundamental empirical structure of the world. The dilemma forces us to choose between claiming that the fundamental objects of experience are invariable and claiming that they are conceptually formed. I conclude by briefly describing how Kant successfully faces the challenge of accounting for the most fundamental invariable level of objects of experience without yielding to the myth of the given.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophical Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024


  • experience
  • intuitional content
  • Kant
  • McDowell
  • myth of the given
  • perception

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy

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