Pictures, Privacy, Augustine, and the Mind

Journal of Philosophical Research 33:33-72 (2008)
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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.”


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