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misleading] cases is a matter of the fact itself disclosed to the experiencer’? If he cannot, then, as a response to the sceptic, his ‘insistence’ will be no less dogmatic than the more orthodox view which he rightly rejects. In fact, in my view there is an aspect of McDowell’s account which does betray a too conciliatory and deeply problematic relation to what he calls the ‘dominant contemporary philosophy of mind’ (McDowell, 1983, p. 478, fn. 2). The most salient symptom of this is his acceptance, at the level of experience itself, of a version of the interface model. That is, his allowing ‘what is given to experience in the two sorts of case [namely, deceptive and non-deceptive perceptions] to be the same in so far it is an appearance that things are thus and so’ (ibid., p. 475). The central feature of this model of experience is that it clings to the assumption that ‘enjoying an experience’ has a distinctive first-personal character. That is, it is committed to the idea that there is ‘something that it is like’ to enjoy an experience and that ‘what it is like to enjoy access or apparent access’ is the same (McDowell, 1986, p. 149).7 The inclusion of this conception of the subjective character of experience is not deemed problematic by McDowell. Nor, of course, is it deemed so by adherents to the orthodox ‘interface’ conception. Here, I think, one can see a significant yet silent agreement between McDowell’s conception of subjectivity and the more traditional, broadly Cartesian, conception. Specifically, both assume as coherent a particular interpretation of what it is for a living human being to be a ‘subject of experience’, namely, an interpretation conceived in terms of its potential for a distinctively first-personal, ‘inside take’ on its own states, its presence to its own experiences. The conception of our ‘subject’ character as something ‘constantly present-at-hand both in and for a closed realm’ has been the focus of quite general criticism throughout this book. However, the worry at this point can be spelled out as follows. McDowell accepts that, for a ‘subject’, ‘what it is like to enjoy access or apparent access’ is the same. The disjunctive conception is then introduced to foreclose ‘the characteristically Cartesian willingness to face up to losing the external world with the inner for consolation’ (ibid., p. 149). But there is no reason to suppose that such a ‘subject’ should find any consolation from the introduction of the disjunctive conception at all. We are to suppose that this ‘subject’s’ best theory of his or her current perceptual standing (the appearance that such and such is the case) is that it is either a mere appearance or the fact that such and such is the case making itself perceptually manifest. But no sceptic need deny this. The sceptic’s conclusion is only that, in every case, one must suspend judgement as to which. And my view is that McDowell’s adherence to a version of the interface conception of experience leaves him without the resources for answering such a question. For, on the basis of any given ‘subject’s’ perceptual standing (i.e., on the basis of ‘what is given’ to its ‘experience’), there is no way for it to provide any adequate grounds for ‘insisting’ that either option is, in each case, in fact true, and so, ultimately, it is nothing but a dogmatic insistence to say that any are.


Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein  
Glendinning, simon on being with others heidegger‚ derrida, wittgenstein