Notes on McDowell’s Analysis on Putnam


We cannot understand what consitutes the fact that a natural-kind world like “water”, has the extension it does without appealing to an actual scientifically discovered nature or sociological basis about facts, which involve community relations of English speakers. McDowell finds it plausible that the extension of a word as a speaker uses it, should be a function of its meaning. If not, we loose what words mean from the speakers lips, what those speakers say when they utter those words and how things have to be for what they say to be true. Words then, must be partly contained within the physical and social enviroment. One might take this to be another, simply intuitive idea that a command of a words meaning is a mental capacity, and to exercise it is a mental act – an act of intellect and therfore of the mind. If it is partly contained in the physical enviroment, the mind cannot be said to be in the head. Meanings are in the mind and cannot be in the head. Yet meanings are not wholly a matter of the subjects mind because they are partly extend into the sociological and physical enviroment.

States of Mind

These entail nothing about a subects enviroment. If we try to preserve the idea that the thought of the knowledge of a meaning is a mental state, we suppouse that knowledge of a meaning is a state of mind where the attributor positions ‘knowledge of meaning’ within an enviroment. The command of meaning in Punams arguments has two modes of being: a part of the complete truth about mind is a truth about something that is wholly in the head, while the second truth is how the subject matter relates to things outside the head. The latter appears to be an unquestionably suitable topic for the natrual sciences. Yet the term ‘wide’ ensures that psycology in genral cannot be within the scope of science. Knowledge of meanings, thoughts without water, seem entierly out of reach of a scientific conception of the role played in our mental lives in our understanding of ourselves and others.

Second possible reading

The mind is not a brain, but an immaterial organ. It has an intrinsic nature that is idependant of how the minds possesor is placed in the enviroment. Nothing ‘narrow’ however, whenever matteial or immaterial in this reading, can ammount to something enviromentally constituted. When Putnam says meanings are not in the head, this is merely a vivid way of saying that the is no ‘narrow’ mental attribution can amount to a knowledge of a meaning of the relevant sort, whenever material or immaterial organ is the one whose mechanism possit such attributions as true. Mental life then is an aspect of our lived lives (there’s a kind of hegalien bent here). It may be trivially true that knowing the word water is a mental state. Mental states expand in accordamce to extensions in a term, in a way in which we can maintain both assumptions. When we talk of the mind/brain, we concieve the mind as an organ.


Psychological states in the narrow sense:

States of mind

Psycological states in the wide sense:

Intuitively giving attributes to particular posisions in the attributors enviroment.