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Wittgenstein Workshop - Beetles in Boxes

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 290. No prior reading or background is expected.

In this part of the book, Wittgenstein presents one of his most famous thought experiments considering minds and subjective experiences: "imagine a community in which the individuals each have a box containing a 'beetle'. 'No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle.' If the 'beetle' had a use in the language of these people, it could not be as the name of something - because it is entirely possible that each person had something completely different in their box, or even that the thing in the box constantly changed, or that each box was in fact empty. The content of the box is irrelevant to whatever language game it is used in."

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  • Brian

    enjoyed this. smaller group allowed for more understanding

    March 21, 2013

  • Anneliese

    Shoot, I am working. :(

    March 18, 2013

  • Peter R.

    There's an interesting article in the New York Times on Wittgenstein where the author says outright, "Wittgenstein claims that there are no realms of phenomena whose study is the special business of a philosopher, and about which he or she should devise profound a priori theories and sophisticated supporting arguments. There are no startling discoveries to be made of facts, not open to the methods of science, yet accessible 'from the armchair' through some blend of intuition, pure reason and conceptual analysis. Indeed the whole idea of a subject that could yield such results is based on confusion and wishful thinking."
    It is here;

    1 · March 4, 2013

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