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Child Mind Notes

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Bill Child - Wittgenstein Chapter Six: The later philosophy: mind and psychology

1. Sensations and sensation language i. Wittgenstein's 1929-30 account of sensation language
* Sensation words have two meanings: a private, introspective meaning, which only I understand, and a public meaning, which can be understood by other people
* public meanings are based on behavioural criteria
* Wittgenstein retained the ideas that:
* first person application of sensation words is not based on observation of behaviour
* meanings of third-person applications of sensation words must be understood in a way that makes reference to behaviour
* BUT he rejected the early account as a whole
* it is impossible for meaning to be made through introspection, and
* this account of public meanings of sensations would make the character of sensations irrelevant to communication ii. The private language argument
* We find it natural to think that sensations are intrinsically subjective and introspectible
* it would be perfectly possible for two people to behave exactly alike, yet for one of them to have totally different sensations
* this leads to the belief in epistemic privacy and in sensation words as defined by introspective attachment
* Wittgenstein assumes that our ordinary language is not a private language - i.e. that my saying 'I am in pain' does not refer to something that only I can know/understand
* he then asks if there are any words that could be private in such a way
* Can a private linguist give meaning to signs by association?
* a standard of correctness musty be established, which would mean an application of a term 'S' would be correct if the new sensation is the same kind of sensation as was originally called 'S'
# but we cannot take for granted what it is for something to belong to the same kind (Platonism) - what counts as going on in the same way depends on a humanly created standard of similarity (similarity in what respect)
* why can't the private linguist create a standard of correctness?
# community view - without community, not distinction between what is right and seems right
* What about private ostensive definition?
* ostensive definition works when the role a word is supposed to play in the language is already clear
# but this would presuppose an existing network of words e.g. 'sensation', 'this' etc, and this is the question at hand
# the private linguist must find a way of specifying the kind of thing being name without relying on public language
* here the argument depends on the assumption that ordinary language isn't public

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