Wittgenstein (Arguments of the Philosophers)

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Articles

  1. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations
  2. Table of contents
  3. 1. Biographical Sketch
  4. ISBN 13: 9780415119443
  5. Philosophers: Arguments against Wittgenstein?

That is to say, all the names that it would use would be private to that speaker and could not enter into the language of another speaker. If you mean this piece of chalk as a physical object, then you are not using a proper name. And in that it has a very odd property for a proper name, namely that it seldom means the same thing two moments running and does not mean the same thing to the speaker and to the hearer.

When you are acquainted with that particular, you have a full, adequate and complete understanding of the name, and no further information is required.

Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations

Although Wittgenstein does not explicitly say so, it is likely that this is the inspiration of his argument: his writing is marked in many places by criticism of Russell, both explicit and otherwise. However, as noted above, the issues she raises are of increasing interest both directly and indirectly. His central contention is that Diamond projects views attributable to the later Wittgenstein into the Tractatus , particularly those concerning naming and use.

The argument is thus perhaps most profitably read as targeting, not any particular theory, but rather the motivation for considering a range of apparently independent or even competing theories along with their associated tasks, problems and solutions.

Table of contents

Again, Descartes considered himself able to talk to himself about his experiences while claiming to be justified in saying that he does not know or not until he has produced a reassuring philosophical argument anything at all about an external world conceived as something independent of them. And he and others have thought: while I may make mistakes about the external world, I can infallibly avoid error if I confine my judgments to my immediate sensations. Compare The Principles of Philosophy , I, 9. Again, many philosophers, including John Stuart Mill, have supposed there to be a problem of other minds, according to which I may reasonably doubt the legitimacy of applying, say, sensation-words to beings other than myself.

In each of these examples, the implication is that the internal vehicle of my musings could in principle be private as Kenny [, p. The implication is of course often denied.

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But the question is, on what basis does this ability rest? However, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that the significance of the private language argument does not rest on the scholarly detail of whether this or that thinker can be correctly described as committed to the idea.

The target is a way of thinking which generates philosophical theories, not the theories themselves. In the remarks that follow, Wittgenstein argues that the idea of such a private language is nonsensical or incoherent because it is a violation of grammar i. Wittgenstein at this point reminds the interlocutor that we already use ordinary language for that.

Wittgenstein's Beetle in a Box Analogy

As we saw above, in section 1. On either, the point of the private language argument is that the idea is exposed as unintelligible when pressed—we cannot make sense of the circumstances in which we should say that someone is using a private language. He continues to talk of sensations, and of pain as an example, but one should remember that these are not our sensations, the everyday facts of human existence, but the supposed exemplars of philosophical accounts of the everyday facts. See the recent 4th edition translation of this paragraph, a relevant part is in the first sentence of this article, to find a version closer to the original German.

The attempt to name a sensation in a conceptual vacuum merely raises the questions of what this business is supposed to consist in, and what is its point. But, for the sake of getting to the heart of the matter, Wittgenstein puts the first of these questions on one side and pretends that it is sufficient for the second to imagine himself in the position of establishing a private language for the purpose of keeping a diary of his sensations.

However, to investigate the possibility of the imagined diary case by exploring it from the inside the only way, he thinks, really to expose the confusions involved requires him to use certain words when it is just the right to use these words which is in question.

This difficulty has often gone unnoticed by commentators on the argument, with particularly unhappy results for the understanding of the discussion of the diary example. Fogelin [], for instance, a paradigm representative of Orthodoxy, treats this as a case where he himself , a living embodied human being, keeps a diary and records the occurrences of a sensation which he finds it impossible to describe to anyone else. But we are not to assume that the description of the keeping of the diary is a description of a possible or even ultimately intelligible case.

But the fact that it may not make sense must be remembered in reading what follows, which in strictness should constantly be disfigured with scare quotes. We shall, as we have already, occasionally supply them as a reminder, reserving double quotes for this purpose. The aim is to show that even if this concession is made, meaning for a sensation-word still cannot be secured and maintained by such a linguist.

The translation here obscures the reason why. In these circumstances, meaning cannot be extracted from a pre-existing practice of private use, since what is in question is how such a use could be established in the first place. But if this exercise is to be genuine and successful ostensive definition, it must establish the connection between sign and sensation, and this connection must persist.

For I do not define anything, even to myself let alone anyone else, by merely attending to something and making a mark, unless this episode has the appropriate consequences. This account of the argument and its history is summed up by Anthony Kenny as follows:. Critics of Wittgenstein have found the argument, so interpreted, quite unconvincing. Surely, they say, the untrustworthiness of memory presents no more and no less a problem for the user of a private language than for the user of a public one.

At this point critics of Wittgenstein have either denied that truth demands corrigibility, or have sought to show that checking is possible in the private case too. Kenny[ ] pp. This interplay of criticism and defence characterizes the Orthodox interpretation of the argument. See Fogelin [], pp. There seem to be at least two reasons why this interpretation should have become established.

First, philosophers committed to the idea of a private language are often looking for an arrangement in which mistakes of fact are impossible; that is, they are trying to overcome scepticism by finding absolute certainty. Descartes is the example usually cited.

1. Biographical Sketch

And this would make sceptical arguments appear to be natural weapons to use in reply to them. See, e. Nor does the private language argument depend on taking the latter to be an effect of the former. Now that we are clearer about what the connection is which has to be remembered right, we can return to the exposition of the argument. I am to imagine that I am a private linguist. Wittgenstein considers two possible answers.

Of this Wittgenstein says merely:. The point is highly condensed. Here is a more explicit version. For there to be factual assertion, there must be the distinction between truth and falsehood, between saying what is the case and saying what is not.

ISBN 13: 9780415119443

For there to be the distinction between truth and falsehood, there must be a further distinction between the source of the meaning, and the source of the truth, of what is said. If I must also appeal to this very object to make this utterance intelligible to myself, I deprive it of any claim to the status of factual assertion—it becomes, at best, ostensive definition. But at this point we must break with Kenny too. This is just conventional scepticism about memory extended to include meanings as well as judgments. And it is an elementary point of epistemology that knowing something does not obviously entail just as a result of the definition of knowledge that it is impossible for one to be wrong about that thing, only that one is not in fact wrong.

What has gone wrong? But why should this assumption be allowed? What entitles us to assume that a private linguist could even ostensively define his sign to himself in the first place? In these two sections Wittgenstein reminds us that his arguments in the earlier sections e. Rather, the argument is this. But this is just what is in question.

What would be constancy here? What would be using the sign in the same way as before? How was the sign used in the first place? He simply remembers how he used the sign before. And this looks straightforward enough, because one thinks: he certainly did something before, for he remembers it. And we do not require his memory to be infallible. Again we cannot assume that there has been an actual table even a mental one of meanings in the case of the private linguist, a table which is now recalled and about which the linguist must rely on recall since the original has gone.

Fallibility of memory, even of memory of meaning, is neither here nor there: the point is not that there is doubt now about the trustworthiness of memory, but that there was doubt then about the status of what occurred. Lillekanin Alpha Sc2 Team League.


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Philosophers: Arguments against Wittgenstein?

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