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Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind$
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Jonathan Ellis and Daniel Guevara

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737666.001.0001

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The Private Language Argument One More Time

The Private Language Argument One More Time

(p.91) Chapter 5 The Private Language Argument One More Time
Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Robert J. Fogelin

Oxford University Press

This chapter rejects its own prior interpretation Wittgenstein’s discussions of private language, according to which Wittgenstein’s goal is to provide an argument intended to establish the thesis that a private language is impossible. The chapter here argues that Wittgenstein’s aim is importantly different: it is to show that the very idea of a private language lacks coherent content. The primary error Wittgenstein’s readers too often commit, according to this chapter, is to mistake some of Wittgenstein’s grammatical remarks for philosophical remarks. Wittgenstein urges throughout his later work that mistaking a grammatical claim for a philosophical one is a common source of philosophical confusion. The grammatical claims the chapter has in mind in this case are some of the claims Wittgenstein makes using expressions such as “obeying a rule,” “private,” and “sensations.”

Keywords:   Wittgenstein, private language, private language argument, rule-following, grammar, grammatical, obeying a rule, sensation, private object, Philosophical Investigations

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