The negative part of Wittgenstein's treatment of rule-following in the Philosophical Investigations is a critique of Platonic theories of meaning. The main argument, summarized in §§ 201-202 is a reductio: if Platonism were true, the difference between obeying and disobeying a linguistic rule would vanish. For Platonism requires the rule-follower to have in his mind something which will completely determine in advance all the correct applications of a descriptive word, but this is a requirement that could not be conceivably satisfied. (...) — The analogy which Wittgenstein finds for the Platonist's "super-idealization" of the rule-follower's mental equipment — the analogy of the "machine-as-symbol" (§§ 193-194) indicates the connection between his treatment of this topic and his philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
This is a concise and readable study of five intertwined themes at the heart of Wittgenstein's thought, written by one of his most eminent interpreters. David Pears offers penetrating investigations and lucid explications of some of the most influential and yet puzzling writings of twentieth-century philosophy. He focuses on the idea of language as a picture of the world; the phenomenon of linguistic regularity; the famous "private language argument"; logical necessity; and ego and the self.
In his later philosophy, Wittgenstein unlike Russell offers no theories, because he believes that philosophical theories are never explanatory. They try to imitate scientific theories, but they lack the empirical basis that gives science its explanatory power. Two examples of his deconstructive work are discussed. One is his critique of the theory that the direct objects of perception are always sense-data, describable in a radically private language. Austin too criticized the theory of sense-data, but Wittgenstein's critique, unlike Austin's, included an (...) attempt to show what had made it so attractive to its supporters: it presented a picture of the human predicament that appealed to their imaginations. The second example is his critique of the theory of the pure ego, which tended to collapse into solipsism. This critique was developed in his first book, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , and his later deconstructive work was modelled on it. (shrink)
A stellar group of philosophers offer new works on themes from the great philosophy of Wittgenstein, honoring one of his most eminent interpreters David Pears. This collection covers both the early and the later work of Wittgenstein, relating it to current debates in philosophy. Topics discussed include solipsism, ostension, rules, necessity, privacy, and consciousness.
Wittgenstein's critique of solipsism is explained as a development in three stages. In the first, which appeares in the Notebooks 1914-16 and Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he criticizes the solipsist for not identifying his ego and, therefore, leaving the objects presented to it unidentified. He argues that this is like trying to identify the eye without using any psychological facts. In the second stage, which appeares in The Blue Book and Notes for Lectures on "Private Experience" and "Sensations", he assumes that the (...) solipsist does not even try to identify his ego but merely points at the objects of which he is directly aware. The critique of this inward pointing is based on a development of the original analogy between ego and eye. The third stage is the argument against the possibility of a sensation-language without any connections with the physical world. This appeares in Notes for Lectures on "Private Experience" and "Sense Data" and in Philosophical Investigations. Here the focus is not on the ego but on the objects presented to it. However the criticism is similar: those objects and their types need criteria of identity but would not have sense i f they were not connected with the physical world. (shrink)
Wittgenstein's critique of sohpsism - his attempt to show that sohpsism loses its intended meaning on the way to achieving its aspired truth - is reconstructed from its erarly stages in the Notebooks 1914-1916 via the 1936 lecture notes to the passages in the Philosophical Investigations. The analogy of the geometrical eye and the pointing to it are used to show the connections between the different arguments here involved.
Starting from an analysis of Wittgenstein's reasons for placing all true-seeming sentences about the relation between language and the world in the class of utterances that lack a truth-value and can only communicate in the privileged way, the doctrine of showing is investigated in Wittgenstein's later writings. In contrast to the view that the concept of showing simply disappeared with the abandonment of the picture theory of the sentence it is argued that much of his erarly doctrine of showing survives (...) in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. (shrink)
In this compelling analysis David Pears examines the foundations of Hume's theory of the mind as presented in the first book of the Treatise. Past studies have tended to take one of two extreme views: that Hume relies exclusively on a theory of meaning, or that he relies exclusively on a theory of truth and evidence. Steering a middle course between these positions, Pears argues that Hume's theory of ideas serves both functions. He examines in detail its application to three (...) difficult problems: causation, personal identity, and sense perception. Hume's solutions, Pears argues, are not theories that can be given a place in standard classification of philosophical theories, but rather depend upon a subtle form of naturalism not altogether unlike Wittgenstein's naturalism. A clearly written and argued study, Hume's System will be of special interest to students and scholars of the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Many philosophers agree with Socrates that it is not possible to perform an akratic action consciously and freely. They take this view because they assimilate the internal irrationality of such a performance to the internal irrationality of drawing a theoretical conclusion which contadicts one's premisses. This article develops some arguments against that assimilation. The extreme cost of theoretical self-contradiction is forming the belief both that something is so and that it is not so. This is impossible for anyone who understands (...) what he is doing, and the impossibility can be explained: nothing could conceivably make such a conjunction of beliefs true. But the conjunction of a value-judgement judgment and an action that gets against it is different. Although it too is internally irrational, there is no property like truth which the value-judgement and his action ought both to possess, but cannot both possess. This article proposes a different model for akratic action, which might serve as a basis for disagreement with Socrates' view of it. (shrink)
In this volume, Pears examines the internal organization of Wittgenstein's thought and the origins of his philosophy to provide unusually clear insight into the philosopher's ideas. Part I surveys the whole of Wittgenstein's work, while Part II details the central concepts of his early system; both reveal how the details of Wittgenstein's work fit into its general pattern.
This book is about self-deception and lack of self-control or wishful thinking and acting against one's own better judgement. Steering a course between the skepticism of philosophers, who find the conscious defiance of reason too paradoxical, and the tolerant empiricism of psychologists, it compares the two kinds of irrationality, and relates the conclusions drawn to the views of Freud, cognitive psychologists, and such philosophers as Aristotle, Anscombe, Hare and Davidson.
Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in Vienna in 1889 and died in Cambridge in 1951. He studied engineering, first in Berlin and then in Manchester, and he soon began to ask himself philosophical questions about the foundations of mathematics. What are numbers? What sort of truth does a mathematical equation possess? What is the force of proof in pure mathematics? In order to find the answers to such questions, he went to Cambridge in 1911 to work with Russell, who had just (...) produced in collaboration with Whitehead (1861-1947) Principia Mathematica (1910-1913), a monumental treatise which bases mathematics on logic. But on what is logic based? Wittgenstein's attempt to answer this question convinced Russell that he was a genius. During the 1914-8 war he served in the Austrian army and in spare moments continued the work on the foundations of logic which he had begun in 1912. His war-time journal, Notebook s 1914-16 (1961), reveals the development of his ideas more clearly that the final version, Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus, which he published in the early 1920s. (shrink)