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Tom

Cumming

Course studied: Thesis research

United Kingdom

More about Tom

Thesis title: The Intentionality of Practical Engagement in Martin Heidegger and John McDowell

Tom's research at Nottingham Trent University responds to the recent debate between Hubert Dreyfus and John McDowell. This debate concerns the relationship between thought and the world, and whether this should be understood as a relationship mediated conceptually. Dreyfus, following the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, argues that human beings relate to the world primarily in terms of a practically engaged absorption, which does not involve conceptuality. McDowell argues that concepts must play an all-encompassing and irreducible role, even in practical engagement.

In order to respond constructively to the debate, this research returns to McDowell's project in Mind and World (1994). Here, McDowell attempts to avoid pictures of the relationship between thought and the world that either subscribe to the presuppositions of traditional empiricism, or that result in forms of anti-realism. McDowell's solution is to emphasise the irreducible role that conceptuality must play, which carries over to his debate with Dreyfus.

The task then becomes to develop an account of practical engagement that can avoid the two problematic pictures that McDowell wants to avoid – while retaining the key insights of Dreyfus and Heidegger. Tom's thesis argues that this may pose difficulties for McDowell's conception of the relationship between thought and the world, but that these difficulties can be overcome, and that a developed account of practical engagement may supplement McDowell's solution in Mind and World.

This project is funded by the AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.

Director of Studies

Dr. Patrick O'Connor

Research Groups / Centres and Projects

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