11 The Private language Arument and the Philo of Psychology

11 The Private language Arument and the Philo of Psychology...

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Unformatted text preview: 11 The Private Language Argument and the Philosophy of Psychology 1 Private Language A plausible example of a private language would be our language for sensations. Why? Because is through introspection that we grasp the essence of our particular psychological states. The essentiality of such a language is an inward pointing (ostension) referring to our immediate (private) sensations. 2 Eight main arguments against the idea of a private language. See Wilson, B. 1998. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Edinburgh UP 3 1. The Consequence Argument A private definition is not a real definition of a world, for it is impossible for it to have a practical consequence, i.e. a genuine practical use. Let say that I name “S” a given sensation: How can “S” have a practical use? 4 2. The Stage­Setting Argument There is a gap between knowing a correlation and possessing a definition. One could not use “S” as a name unless one already possesses a language in which “S” has already a role. 5 Privately established correlations could not be the basis of a language because they could count as definitions only for someone who already has a language. 6 3. The Practice Argument A person could not obey a rule only once. And an individual cannot be the only arbiter of the correctness of her own usage. 7 4. The Interpretation Argument Without a degree of regularity, of correlations between utterances and action, there is nothing we can call a language. 8 So in the case of an agent writing “S” in her own diary we do not find the required regularity. Hence “S” would not be a sign of a language and, therefore, a private language cannot be possible. 9 5. The Identification Argument If a private language were to exist a criterion of identity for my sensation would be needed. How do I know that my last week headache is the same as this week headache without mastering the word “headache”? 10 6. The Verificationist Argument If a private language were possible, a private language user would be required to check each time she uses “S” whether or not it means the same today as it meant yesterday. That is, for an appropriate use of “S” it would be necessary to be able to check any present utterance against the original definition: if this check is impossible, “S” is meaningless. 11 7. The Beetle­in­the­box Argument If I name what I have in my box “beetle” and you name what you have in your box “beetle”, how do we know what we are naming the same thing? This also suggests that the language of sensations cannot be understood on the model of the name­object relation. 12 8. The Use Argument Questions about meaning can often be replaced by questions about use. Meaning and understanding do not consist in any experience of fitness or mental act of grasping. 13 They have to be understood as practical abilities. As such meanings do not have to be reified as abstract entities E.g. what gets named by a numerical) or mental entities (e.g. what gets named by a colour or sensations word). 14 General remarks against the possibility of a private language In looking at how we teach a child the world “pain”, Wittgenstein draws our attention to the fact that we teach the use of the word without ever attempting to direct the child’s attention inwards. 15 We train the child in the use/exploit of a linguistic technique which enables her to express what she feels, not merely in cries and exclamations, but in articulate language. The verbal expression of pain replaces crying and does not describe it. (PI: # 244) 16 The grammar of “pain”. The connection between the word “pain” and the relevant sensation is not secured by an inner ostension, but by the fact that this word is used as a mean to express what it is felt. It is by making ourselves aware of how we use words such as “pain” that we articulate the criterion of identity for pain, and not by looking inwards and saying “this”. 17 The act of naming presupposes a grammar or technique of employing a word within a language game. The mere act of looking inside or inwards does neither supply this grammar nor provide a technique of employment. For “sensation” is a word of our common language, not one intelligible to me alone. So the use of this word stands in need of a justification which everybody understand. (PI: # 261) 18 General moral (i) Introspection plays no role in defining psychological concepts. (ii) The distinction between psychological states and behaviour, which the appeal to introspection aimed to capture, is a grammatical distinction which is properly understood through a careful attention to the differences in how we use the relevant concepts. 19 The Philosophy of Psychology The Cartesian picture It pictures sensations as inner processes. So if one, God, could see into human consciousness, she would know what we can only guess is happening. Humans cannot penetrate what lies behind behaviour. So our use of psychological expression, unlike God’s use, is indirect. 20 The Cartesian picture legitimates the following question: What is the connection between a sensation, S, which is supposed to lies inside us and the behaviour triggered by S? This question suggests a kind of spatial distinction between a sensation and the behaviour, a distinction between what is inside (S) and what is outside (the behaviour triggered by S). 21 To understand the connection or link between S and S­behaviour merely on the basis of S causing S­behaviour, would be to oversimplify the phenomenon. For there is also conceptual (or grammatical) connection between the concept of S and S­ behaviour. It comes to this: only of a living human being and what resembles (behaves like) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees, is blind, hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious. (PI: # 281) 22 When we investigate psychological concepts and the way they are used in our language games, we see that they do not work on the basis of a distinction between what is inside (private) and what is outside (public). We do not say that a stone does not feel pain because we have been able to investigate what is inside the stone. It does not make sense in our language game to speak of a stone feeling pain. 23 These are conceptual data. Our linguistic practice describes living human beings: it does not describe bodies. We do not say that a body feels pain, we do not attribute pain to a hand. We say that a person feels pain, we do not comfort a person’s hand, … 24 When a child comes to learn how to use sensation concepts she does not learn it on the basis of what is inside, a hidden object. She does not learn it using ostensive definitions, etc.. So the Cartesian picture, which rests on the distinction between what is inside and what is outside, is not relevant and cannot be applied in describing the learning process. 25 Sensations The must not be conceived as objects. This, though, does not entail that sensations do not exist, i.e. that a sensation is a nothing, i.e. that there is nothing behind behaviour. It is not a rejection of qualia. It is a mere rejection of the latter as objects. 26 “But you will surely admit that there is a difference between pain­behaviour accompanied by pain and pain­ behaviour without any pain?”—Admit it? What greater difference could there be?—“And yet you again and again reach the conclusion that the sensation itself is a nothing.”—Not at all. It is not a something, but not a nothing either! The conclusion was only that a nothing would serve just as well as a something about which nothing could be said. We have only rejected the grammar which tries to force itself on us here. The paradox disappears only if we make a radical break with the idea that language always functions in one way, always serves the same purpose: to convey thoughts— which may be about houses, pains, good and evil, or anything else you please. (PI: # 304) 27 Visual experience If we focus on what it is like to see something, we tend to think of visual experiences as images we know directly by introspection. This, though, is not the right picture. 28 For the visual impression as a private object of experience is a philosophical illusion. To overcome this illusion Wittgenstein invites us to investigate visual experiences in a different way, i.e. as a grammatical investigation on the way this concept actually works within our language game. 29 Goals (i) To overcome the exaggerated sense of the importance of introspection in understanding the nature of visual experience. (ii) To reveal the grammatical links existing between this concept and the way agents behave and react, i.e. to underline the link between visual experience and being able to do something. 30 Seeing and seeing as E.g. the rabbit­duck picture. Without noticing the ambiguity I see either a picture­rabbit or a picture­duck, while noticing the ambiguity I see the picture as a picture­rabbit or as a picture­duck. It is only when one knows that she is presented with an ambiguous picture that one can answer the question “what do you see?” with “I see it as a rabbit or as a duck”. 31 The difference involved in seeing the picture as a rabbit and as a duck can be captured neither in invoking two different (inner) pictures one can point to when saying “Now I see it as a duck” and “Now I see it as a rabbit”, nor in the objective world (the picture itself). The difference ought to come from elsewhere. The difference in the two visual experiences arises from a difference in how the agent places the pictures in two different contexts, i.e. in the way she makes reference to other pictures of rabbits or duck, etc. 32 General Moral Introspection is of no help in characterising the difference between seeing and seeing as. The same happens with sudden recognition. Our visual experience is not linked with a change in the object perceived, but with a change in how the perceiver is situated or disposed to act vis­à­vis the object perceived. 33 ...
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This document was uploaded on 10/26/2011 for the course PHIL 2504 at Carleton CA.

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