Synthese 191 (3):557-567 (2014)

Hao Tang
Tsinghua University
This paper corrects a mistake in John McDowell’s influential reading of Wittgenstein’s attack on the idea of private sensations. McDowell rightly identifies a primary target of Wittgenstein’s attack to be the Myth of the Given. But he also suggests that Wittgenstein, in the ferocity of his battles with this myth, sometimes goes into overkill, which manifests itself in seemingly behavioristic denials about sensations. But this criticism of Wittgenstein is a mistake. The mistake is made over two important but notoriously difficult sections in the so-called Private Language Argument, namely §304 and §293 of the Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein, maximally charitably read, commits no overkill in these two sections. This correction strengthens McDowell’s overall reading, but it is only a first step toward fully bringing out the deep but obscurely expressed insights in §304 and §293, the full treatment of which must await another occasion
Keywords Wittgenstein  McDowell  Private Language Argument   Private sensation  Myth of the Given
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0291-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,290
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.Wilfrid S. Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.
Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1922 - Filosoficky Casopis 52:336-341.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Is a Sensation a Concept-Involving Object?Haiqiang Dai - 2021 - South African Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):99-116.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Phenomenal Concepts are Consistent with Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument.Francois-Igor Pris - 2014 - NB: Philosophical Investigations (Russian E-Journal) 7:64-98.
One Strand in the Private Language Argument.John Mcdowell - 1989 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 33 (1):285-303.
Essays on Wittgenstein.Elmer Daniel Klemke - 1971 - Urbana, University of Illinois Press.
Phenomenal Concepts and the Private Language Argument.David Papineau - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2):175.
Wittgenstein on Private Languages: It Takes Two to Talk.Benjamin F. Armstrong - 1984 - Philosophical Investigations 7 (January):46-62.


Added to PP index

Total views
137 ( #86,418 of 2,519,267 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #116,995 of 2,519,267 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes