McDowell's Mind and World is a commentary on a traditional, dualist, epistemology which puzzles over, and offers accounts of, a fundamental division between mental, subjective items, and non-mental, objective items in experience. The principal responses to that tradition which McDowell considers are those of Davidson's coherentism, Evans's form of realism, and Kant; but it is Kant's famous B75 text which occupies centre stage:
Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer; Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.
(Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind).
I shall unfortunately say nothing of the philosophical import of McDowell's reflections on these positions, for my aim here is to focus on his account of Kant. My view is that his account is fundamentally mistaken, and I can indicate the points of disagreement in two related ways. First, as McDowell stresses, his Kant is Strawson's Kant. But, as I have argued elsewhere Strawson's Kant is not Kant, and so McDowell's Kant is not Kant either. Second, more specifically, Strawson's Kant has notoriously two sides, light and dark, insightful and monstrous, in which the dark side, the so-called ‘Metaphysics of Transcendental Idealism”, cannot be eliminated, and McDowell follows Strawson in this. Indeed in Strawson's The Bounds of Sense that dark side has equal status with the more promising insights, although more recently he has modified that strong view. My claim is that this bizarre dualism, and especially the dark side which McDowell unwisely calls the “transcendental story” (MW p 41), are not present in Kant in anything like the way that Strawson and McDowell suppose.