IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Cavell and McDowell on education and self-determination

20 February 2019, 5:30 pm–7:15 pm

Person silhouetted against blue

In this Philosophy at the Institute of Education talk, Dr Matteo Falomi (University of Essex) will consider John McDowell’s idea of Bildung as the achievement of self-determination through communal initiation.

Event Information

Open to





Alison Brady


Room 828
UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Through the idea of Bildung presented by McDowell, 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.

This seminar, hosted by the center for Philosophy at the Institute of Education, is free and open for all to attend, no booking required.


About the Speaker

Dr Matteo Falomi

at University of Essex

Matteo Falomi currently holds a lectureship at the School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex. 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.