objective purport; that is, they refer to a reality external to the mind. But it would be mysterious how our inner-realm presentations could so much as be about the outer realm, much less get it right or give us knowledge of it, unless the outer realm were likewise conceptually articulated:
We seem to need rational constraints on thinking and judging, from a reality external to them, if we are to make sense of them as bearing on a reality outside thought at all. ... When we try to acknowledge the need for external rational constraint, we can find ourselves supposing there must be relations of ultimate grounding that reach outside the conceptual realm altogether. That ... is precisely one of the two opposing pitfalls from which the conception is intended to liberate us.
In the conception I am recommending, the need for external constraint is met by the facts that .... experiences themselves are already equipped with conceptual content. ... How things are is independent of one’s thinking .... By being taken in in experience, how things anyway are becomes available to exert the required rational control, originating outside one’s thinking, on one’s exercise of spontaneity. ... In a particular experience in which one is not misled, what one takes in is that things are thus and so. That things are thus and so is the content of the experience, and it can also be the content of a judgement .... So it is conceptual content. But that things are thus and so is also, if one is not misled, an aspect of the layout of the world: it is how things are. Thus the idea of conceptually structured operations of receptivity puts us in a position to speak of experience as openness to the layout of reality. ... [T]here is no ontological gap between the sort of thing one can mean, or generally the sort of thing one can think, and the sort of thing that can be the case. When one thinks truly, what one thinks is what is the case. So since the world is everything that is the case ... there is no gap between thought, as such, and the world.38
“The world is everything that is the case” is of course the first sentence of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus; so on this Wittgensteinian conception, if what is the case is a subset of what can be the case, then facts or truths are a subset of possible propositions or judgeable contents, and so both the outer realm and my inner-realm awareness of it are part of the third realm. And so indeed McDowell
38 Ibid., p. 25-27.
R. T. Long – Wittgenstein, Praxeology, and Frege’s Three Realms – p. 27