London Branch Seminar
John McDowell describes Bildung as the achievement of self-determination through communal initiation. Through this, the newcomer gains capacity to think for themselves, and specific normative status. While McDowell’s picture seems to capture a natural intuition (McDowell presents it as a Wittgensteinian “reminder”), the picture cannot make a sense of certain moral predicaments, where one’s demand for normative status is based on lack of capacity for self-determination. Take Nora’s personal transformation in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Here one needs to adapt an idea from Stanley Cavell: self-determination requires conceiving of the self as divided between a “present” and a “further” state.
Matteo Falomi currently holds a lectureship at the School of Philosophy and Art History at Essex University. He gained his PhD from the University of Naples’ “l’Orientale”, and has held post-doctoral appointments at Oxford University and at Essex. He has published on Wittgensteinian ethics and on Cavell’s moral and political philosophy. He is presently working on a book on Cavell’s notion of moral perfectionism and developing a set of related projects, including a paper on Rousseau’s discussion of suicide, a paper on the concept of moralism, and a paper on the problem of radical change in contemporary democratic theory.