I had occasion recently to re-read one of the best review essays I have ever read: Crispin Wright's essay on John McDowell's Mind and World, which appeared under the title "Human Nature?" in European Journal of Philosophy 4 (1996): 235-253. The essay itself is a densely argued critique of the two central theses of McDowell's book ("that experience must be conceived as conceptual, and that one should look to a conception of Second Nature for a reconciliation of the normative and the natural" as Wright puts it), but the concluding passages of the review turn to questions of style, which resonate with a discussion we have had here more than once about the nature of "analytic" philosophy. Here is Wright (p. 252):
If analytical philosophy demands self-consciousness about unexplained or only partially explained terms of art, formality and explicitness in setting out of argument, and the clearest possible sign-posting and formulation of assumptions, targets, and goals, etc., then this is not a work of analytical philosophy....At its worst, indeed, McDowell's prose puts barriers of jargon, convolution and metaphor before the reader hardly less formidable than those characteristically erected by his German luminaries.....[T]he stylistic extravagance of McDowell's book--more extreme than in any of his other writings to date--will unquestionably color the influence it will exert...[T]he fear must be that the book will encourage too many of the susceptible to swim out of their depth in seas of rhetorical metaphysics. Wittgenstein complained that, "The seed I am most likely to sow is a certain jargon." One feels that, if so, he had only himself to blame. McDowell is a strong swimmer, but his stroke is not to be imitated.
Is what Wright describes as characteristic of "analytical philosophy" not characteristic of, e.g., Hume and Descartes and, in many ways, Aristotle as well? If so, then what conclusions should be drawn about McDowell or, for that matter, Hegel? I am curious what readers make of Wright's remarks. No anonymous postings, and post only once. Comments may take awhile to appear.