This paper weaves together a number of separate strands each relating to an aspect of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The first strand introduces his radical and incoherent idea of a private object. Wittgenstein in § 258 and related passages is not investigating a perfectly ordinary notion of first person privacy; but his critics have treated his question, whether a private language is possible, solely in terms of their quite separate question of how our ordinary sensation terms can be understood, in a (...) philosophical context, to acquire meaning. Yet it is no part of his intention to demonstrate logically that ordinary sensations are not intrinsically meaningful. This is a tempting yet misleading picture, the picture also expressed through the idea of Augustine’s child who is conceptually articulateprior to learning how to talk. This picture lies behind the born Crusoe, an idea at the centre of the dichotomy between language as essentially shared and essentially shareable, a dichotomy considered here to result from a misconception of two quite separate but related aspects of Wittgenstein’s treatment offollowing a rule. The notion of a misleading picture, in both its pre-theoretical and philosophical aspects, also plays a crucial role in a treatment of Saul Kripke’s well-known “Postscript: Wittgenstein and Other Minds.”. (shrink)
The Private Language Sections of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, -/- generally agreed to run from §§ 243 - 271, but extending to § 315 with the book’s continued -/- treatment of the private object model and the inner and outer conception of the mind, have -/- proved remarkably resistant to any generally agreed interpretation. Even today, ways of -/- looking at these sections which were first in vogue half a century ago when discussions of -/- this aspect of Wittgenstein’s work (...) were at their height, still have their adherents, at a time -/- when the emphasis in Wittgenstein exegesis has graduated towards anti-theoretical, -/- non-doctrinal, and therapeutic conceptions of his entire methodology. Discussion about -/- the rule-following considerations after Saul Kripke’s new interpretation of the argument -/- against private language, which predominated during the last quarter of the 20th century, -/- has tended to be superseded into the new millennium by controversy over substantial v -/- resolute conceptions of nonsense in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a debate now -/- seen by some interpreters to illuminate Wittgenstein’s later work.This paper sheds light -/- on these complex matters firstly by studying a very popular interpretative approach to the -/- relevant sections within its historical context, and secondly by attempting to grasp his overall -/- methodology, primarily as practised in the private language passages themselves. This can -/- help to show how they may reflect the content of §§ 89 -133. However, just as it can be argued -/- that Hume never fully reconciles the sceptical and naturalistic tendencies in his writing, it can -/- be surmised that Wittgenstein never really finds a proper balance between the avowedly -/- therapeutic intent of those stated passages and what, at least for some commentators, are -/- the clearly discoverable argumentative strategies that he employs throughout his treatment -/- of private language and, indeed, throughout Part 1 of the Philosophical Investigations. (shrink)
Selection of Critical Notices of a number of books on Wittgenstein's work - over 20 by 2013 - including books devoted to The TRACTATUS, the PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS and various collections of essays etc. by Wittgenstein scholars and others.
The once deeply held conviction that all necessary truths are known a priori is now widely, although by no means universally agreed to have been subjected to penetrating, if not devastating criticism. Scott Soames, for example, on behalf of Saul Kripke, and indirectly of Hilary Putnam, argues that in respect of natural kinds, the introduction of basic essentialist assumptions grounded in our pre-theoretical habits of thinking and speaking – for example, that atomic or molecular structure provides the underlying essence of (...) a substance – allows a sentence like "water = H 2 0," in which the identity sign is flanked by rigid designators to express a metaphysically necessary truth. Yet doubts and puzzlement remain over the status of a posteriori necessities, including those relating to an individual's origin. This paper considers some prominent criticisms that have been made of the Kripke–Putnam approach by A. J. Ayer and Frank Ebersole among others and reveals in what respects they are valid, where they are misplaced, and, perhaps more importantly, why the most valuable aspect of this approach can be seen to reflect aspects of our scientific procedures that do indeed point towards an application for a distinction that roughly mirrors that between epistemic and metaphysical possibility, yet one that is grounded instead in the nature of our actual practices. (shrink)
In his exceptionally well-received history of analytic philosophy,1 Scott Soames presents accounts of the work of Wittgenstein and Ryle that rest on his acceptance of metaphysical preconceptions that these philosophers implicitly question in their writings. Their shared expressive third-person treatments of the mind, for example, serve to emphasise the inadequacy of Soames's distinction between private mental states and physical states/behaviour, which he regularly employs in assessing their views. His treatment of Gilbert Ryle in particular, reflects the radically different conceptions held (...) by Ryle and Soames of the nature of philosophical investigation. Soames charges Ryle with a failure to recognise the distinction between the necessary and the analytic. He also harbours a clear understanding that philosophical problems arise naturally and directly from “our ordinary ways of thinking,”2 where these ways of thinking, the reader discovers, involve metaphysical preconceptions. This is at odds with Ryle's claim that certain category mistakes, playing the role, roughly, of Wittgenstein's misleading pictures, underlie some of the main problems of philosophy. The purpose of this paper is to assess how well Ryle, occasionally aided by Wittgenstein, can be seen to parry Soames's direct onslaught on his work in parts of Dilemmas and in The Concept of Mind. (shrink)
A discussion of how making a decision about religious belief places this kind of belief in a category which distinguishes it from 'belief in other minds' or 'belief in an external world'. This has important consequences for a philosophical approach to religious belief.
The ‘Private Language’ sections of the Philosophical Investigations §§ 243–315 serve to undermine the idea that our ordinary felt sensations, e.g., of heat, or cold, or pain, together with our experienced impressions of colour or of sound, are ‘private’ or ‘inner’ objects, where an object mirrors in the mental realm what we associate with that of the physical. This paper explores Wittgenstein's method in these sections, together with the work of several of his commentators who agree with his ‘therapeutic’ approach (...) to the denial of a possible private language. More significantly, however, it discovers a paradox in the fact that a number of philosophers who claim that his ‘Argument Against Private Language’ is unsuccessful point in reaching this conclusion to the very features concerning first-person sensation ascription that Wittgenstein employs to reveal that our ordinary sensations are not ‘private’ to us in that sense identified in § 243, which talks of ‘a language used to refer to what only its speaker can know’, viz, ‘his immediate private sensations’. This helps to explain why there is still no general agreement on the significance of §§ 243–315. (shrink)