Wittgenstein Workshop - "only I can know whether I am really in pain"

We will continue our very slow, very cooperative stab at Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations - one of the densest, most idiosyncratic, and most rewarding philosophical texts ever composed. This time we will be starting at Remark 243. No prior reading or background is expected.

In this part of the book, Wittgenstein begins his famous "private language argument" - a set of considerations against the possibility that someone might use language in a way only he understands. Using examples like the judgment that someone is in pain, Wittgenstein dismantles overly-quick subjectivistic assumptions towards which much of Western philosophy has been tempted.


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  • Aaron

    To help understand formal grammar: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_grammar#section_4

    It's a rather technical description but may help (make sure you click on the "string" link if you aren't solid on how that term is being used in this context.

    Monkeys doing it?

    See criticisms of primate language research :

    Language no, but maybe morals?
    http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html I think the above link must be understood relative to pack animals and I don't feel it makes an argument that counters the basic pack animal (think Kropotkin's Mutual Aid) mentality that biology could completely explain.

    February 1, 2013

  • Cathy

    Are you *sure* you know it?

    1 · January 12, 2013

    • eric

      From the video Thrash posted, ""Philosophy is just a byproduct of misunderstanding language! Why don't you realize that?!" Nagarjuna, "Whatever is dependently arisen is... free from conceptual construction."

      1 · January 30, 2013

    • Erik C.

      Wittgenstein seems entirely too friendly in the biopic video

      January 31, 2013

  • Rose B

    Sorry if this has already been asked, but about what time do you guys usually finish?

    January 31, 2013

    • Brian

      6-9, then dinner!

      January 31, 2013

  • Peter R.

    I'd like to encourage people to read the article on the development of Wittgenstein's thought accessible from the New York Review of Books site here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1969/jan/16/a-special-supplement-the-development-of-wittgenste/?page=1 . For me it gives a meaningful perspective on what Wittgenstein is doing in the PI. I'd also be interested in how useful other people think this article is.

    January 25, 2013

  • Rose B

    Thinking of getting a copy of Philosophical Investigations, but not sure which translation to choose...any suggestions? Thanks!

    1 · January 13, 2013

    • Thrashionalist

      As far as I know there are only two translations - Anscombe, and the Hacker/Schulte revision of Anscombe. I am not sure how to judge between them. The former is much more commonly used.

      January 13, 2013

    • Rose B

      Okay, cool, thanks!

      January 13, 2013

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