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Hacker Wittgenstein Meaning And Mind Notes

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Peter Hacker - Wittgenstein: Meaning and Mind Chapter One: The Private Language Arguments

1. Preliminaries
* There is more than one argument in sections 243-315; let us call them the private language arguments
* they are all connected more or less directly with the idea of a language that can be understood only by its speaker
* but they are designed to reveal the incoherence of a complete philosophical discipline, dominant since Descartes
* This discipline includes a conception of the mental to which we are naturally drawn
* this is the 'inner/outer' conception of the mental, and is as important to the philosophy of mind as the Platonist conception of number is to the philosophy of mathematics
# both of these conceptions, and their dialectic contraries (behaviourism and formalism) are rooted in the Augustinian picture of language, where each word is a name, and each sentence a description
* The same philosophical nexus includes the view that the source of all knowledge is experience
* hence language has its foundations in mental or subjective objects, the names of which link language to reality
* It is a mistake to think that the 'real' private language argument is over by 202 (Kripke)
* W did not mean to show in his discussion of rule following that it only makes sense to talk of x following a rule where x is part of a community of rule followers
# instead, we can talk of following a rule where there is a practice (behavioural regularity) that is informed by normative activities (i.e. using the rule as a standard of correctness, rectifying mistakes etc)
* these activities are usually shared, but not necessarily so - Robinson Crusoe can follow a rule alone
# if W had meant to show this, he wouldn't have shown that public language isn't a congruence of private languages built on private ODs (Locke and empiricists)
* clearly he had a point to make about the possibility of a genuinely private language
* private ODs aren't just an OD that nobody happen to know about, they are rules which cannot be communicated to other people
* W's target is a misconstrual of our concepts of experience that inform philosophical, psychological and theoretical linguistic accounts of the nature of language, the foundations of language in 'private' experience and 'private' rules, and the putative foundations of knowledge
* the question is not the logical possibility of a language in solitude, it is whether there is an analogue of following a rule in the case in which the putative rule could not be communicated to anyone else
# if we see the meaning of words as given by explanation, then the question is not whether the private linguist can explain to others what he means by a word so much as explain it to himself
* is the idea of an expression which is logically impossible to explain to others and for others to understand coherent?

2. From grammatical truth to metaphysical theory




We may accept the following as grammatical truisms, as opposed to obvious empirical generalizations:
* each person has experiences. just as there are physical states/events/processes, there are mental ones. one's experiences are one's own
* psychological expressions are names of experiences which people enjoy/suffer
# to know what pain means is to know that it stands for a certain sensation - pain
* a linguist can say what experiences he has, and can do so independently of his observations of his behaviour. what he says doesn't depend on the evidence of what he does
# e.g. he cannot doubt whether he is in pain
* judgements of other people's sensations etc rest on observations of what they do and say These grammatical truisms can lead to metaphysical theses, as follows
* the mental realm
# parallel to the physical realm is a mental realm of mental processes, states, events, which are logically identical to physical 'equivalents'
# to have an experience is to stand in a relation to an object/state/process
* this may be distinct from and irreducible to the physical, or it may be neural
# two people cannot have an identical experience
* names of the mental
# we only know what the name of a mental entity is if we have experienced it
# children first have the experiences, and then come to associate the name with the experience, or else mentally OD by concentrating on the experience
# once meaning is assigned, subsequent use can be explained by causal theorists (habit memory) or normative theorists (recollection of an exemplar stored in memory)
* knowledge of the subjective realm
# if I have an experience I know I do. my knowledge of my experiences is certain and incorrigible
# since we can gain knowledge of out relation to mental objects, there must be an inner analogue of the relation between mind and outer objects - perception
* this is inner sense/introspective consciousness
# one's mind is thus transparent to oneself
* or else it is not transparent, just as perception is fallible
# first person psychological utterances are descriptive
# mental states are causes of behaviour
* knowledge of others' mental states
# we can't know the mental states of others as we know our own - through introspection
# their behaviour is an unreliable guide
# behaviour is not logically connected with the mental
# we cannot know other' mental states - at best, we can believe things about them This picture is based on modification to the grammatical truisms, and has convinced many philosophers
* in fact, these statements are mostly nonsense and sometimes false, yet they have led to:
# scepticism about other minds
# scepticism about communication
# the impossibility of communication
# collapse into solipsism

3. Deviations and dialectic
* Despite many philosophers attacking parts of this Cartesian orthodoxy, nobody before W went to the roots, the origins of the incoherence
* Descartes mind/body dualism
# Occasionalists accepted the duality, rejected the interaction
# Idealists repudiated the conception of body, but retained some of the conception of mind
* external relation between mental and behaviour
# materialists and behaviourists rejected the mind, but inherited the concepts of the body
* central state materialists replaced the mental with the neural, hence a brain/body dualism
* hence the fundamental philosophical picture of the 'inner' and 'outer' was retained
# there are no 'better' concepts; it it not our language that is at fault!
* for example, in the case of 'ownership' of experience, all sorts of things are posited as the entities of the relation
# does the self own experiences? body-experiences, brain-experiences?
# the question is 'whether the subject of experience can coherently be conceived to be anything other than the living human being'
# is the grammar of 'is the name of an experience' isomorphic with that of 'is the name of an object'?
* in the case of first-person present tense psychological utterances, the question is whether such statements ('I know I have a pain') are cognitive claims at all
# we must clarify the grammar of 'description' and 'state of mind'
* in the inner/outer dichotomy, both sides are misrepresented, not just the inner
* Wittgenstein set out 'to put an end to this wearisome attaining clarity, so that the philosophical problems will completely disappear'
* the solutions are not theses, but grammatical truisms, the results of a survey of grammatical usage of terms Chapter Two: Privacy

1. The traditional picture
* Upon reflection on the nature of our experience/its objects, it is easy to slip into the inner/outer dualism
* the empirical world seems unproblematic, but leads us to postulate a second realm of sense-impressions, sensations, feelings, moods, inclinations, wishes, desires
# this leads us to the private/public dualism - objects in the physical world are public, and exist independently of us, whereas our own experiences are essentially owned; are private property
* this in turn leads us to the dualism of inner/outer sense: we know the objects of the private realm through the acquaintance of an inner sense, which is analogous to our outer sense of perception
* this knowledge, so acquired, is certain - hence the mental realm is transparent
* this also leads us to the dualities of dubitable/indubitable, or


# e.g. we cannot doubt our impression of green (inner), but we can doubt that there is a green object (outer) Wittgenstein shows this picture to be nonsense

2. Private ownership
* One source of misconception is the idea that another person can't have my experiences
* we say that two people have the same pain, but the philosopher responds that they are exactly alike, but not identical
# this temptation springs from projecting the grammar of names of physical objects onto the grammar of expressions signifying experiences
# this is strengthened by the assumption that the location of a sensation is a criterion for who has it
* if there is a pain in A's knee, it is A's pain. B can have a similar pain, but not the same pain, since his knee cannot be in the same place as A's
* since A's pain is in his body, and B's is in his, the two are numerically distinct
* this is based on a confusion of two different language games
# 'in' can refer to physical location in one way - the pin is in my leg - or in another: the pain is in my leg
* the pin must be smaller than my leg, can be removed and so on. the pain has neither requirement
* hence we should be suspicious of the claim that A and B's pains must be in different places, just because there are said to be in different legs
# it isn't even true that the pain pointed to must always be within the body - e.g. the case of an amputee (very tenuous)
# the concept of pain location is parasitic on the concept of a sufferer from pain, because the location of pain is where the sufferer says it is
* thus it is misleading to say that A's pains are the pains in A's body, because this encourages us to look for the pains before looking to the sufferer
# if two people have a pain in their left thumb, we say that they have a pain in the same place
* it is wrong to say that two people cannot metaphysically have a pain in the same place, and wrong to infer that they have different pains because the pains are in different places
* The source of confusion here is the superficial similarity between the grammar of expressions signifying experiences and that of the names of objects
* we see ownership of physical objects as contingent/transferable, whereas ownership of experiences is essential and inalienable
# in fact there are big differences that are covered up by the term 'having'
* having of a car is a relation between person and object
* having a wife is a relation between two people
* having a duty/obligation is not a relation between person and object (duty), but between people/groups of people
* having a cold is not a relation between person and object

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