About this topic
Summary To a first approximation a private language would be a language that only one person can understand, perhaps as a matter of necessity. Many philosophers have thought that there couldn't be such a language, that any meaningful language must be such that, at least in principle, more than one person could understand it. The main source for arguments against the possibility of private languages has been Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, although it remains a matter of controversy precisely what Wittgenstein aimed to show, what his arguments were, and whether those arguments were successful. More recent work has attempted to articulate in more detail than Wittgenstein arguments for and against the possibility of private languages. A further issue concerns what the consequences would be if it were demonstrated that private languages are not possible. Would it, for example, have consequences for the nature of experience, or its effability?
Key works Wittgenstein 2009 Includes Wittgenstein's seminal discussion of issues about the possibility of private languages. It is a matter of controversy precisely where the core discussion takes place. Kripke 1982 Very important presentation by Saul Kripke of a line of argument against the possibility of private languages based on Wittgenstein's discussion. Wright 1984 Important critical discussion of Kripke's argument and his interpretation of Wittgenstein. Baker & Hacker 1984 Another important critical discussion of Kripke. Ayer & Rhees 1954 Early discussion of issues about whether there could be private languages. Bar-On 1992 Useful discussion of the possibility of solitary, as opposed to private language, and of the relations between the two issues.
Introductions Candlish 2008 Craig 1997
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182 found
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  1. Phenomenal Concepts and Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument.Martina Prinz & François-Igor Pris - manuscript
  2. Kripke on Private Language.Paul Gregory - manuscript
  3. Kripke on Private Language.Author unknown - manuscript
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  4. Public Language, Private Language, and Subsymbolic Theories of Mind.Gabe Dupre - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
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  5. Rejecting the Given: Neurath and Carnap on Methodological Solipsism.Thomas Uebel - 2021 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    This paper investigates how the doctrine of the epistemological given—long associated with empiricism and positivism and also informing Carnap’s first major work in 1928—was challenged and overcome by Neurath and Carnap in subsequent years. Particular attention is paid to the controversial issue of how precisely the dialectic between Neurath and Carnap played out: whether Neurath’s argumentation correctly engaged with Carnap’s actual positions, whether Carnap’s change of positions in turn fully engaged with Neurath’s challenge, and what all this may tell us (...)
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  6. La estructura lógica del comportamiento humano.Michael Starks - 2019 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    Mi afirmación es que la tabla de intencionalidad (racionalidad, mente, pensamiento, lenguaje, personalidad, etc.) que se presenta aquí describe de forma prominente más o menos precisa, o al menos sirve como una heurística para, cómo pensamos y comportamos, y por lo que abarca no meramente filosofía y psicología, pero todo lo demás (historia, literatura, matemáticas, política, etc.). Tenga en cuenta especialmente que la intencionalidad y la racionalidad como yo (junto con Searle, Wittgenstein y otros) lo ve, incluye tanto deliberativo consciente (...)
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  7. Sensations, Natural Properties, and the Private Language Argument.William Child - 2018 - In Kevin Cahill & Thomas Raleigh (eds.), Wittgenstein and Naturalism. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 79-95.
    Wittgenstein’s philosophy involves a general anti-platonism about properties or standards of similarity. On his view, what it is for one thing to have the same property as another is not dictated by reality itself; it depends on our classificatory practices and the standards of similarity they embody. Wittgenstein’s anti-platonism plays an important role in the private language sections and in his discussion of the conceptual problem of other minds. In sharp contrast to Wittgenstein’s views stands the contemporary doctrine of natural (...)
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  8. Triangulation and the Private Language Argument.Ahmed Arif - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:35-52.
    The paper attempts a novel defense of the main claim of Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument, i.e. that 'inner' ostensive definition is impossible. Part 1 traces Wittgenstein's target to the idea that 'ostensive definition' is a mental act, an idea that makes it tempting to think that its objects might just as well be private as public. Part 2 discusses a recent interpretation and defence of Wittgenstein's position due to Stroud and McGinn. On their view, private ostensive definition establishes no pattern (...)
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  9. TYPES OF INTERSUBJECTIVITY and Alternative Reality Images.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - Oxford: Academic Publishers.
    Exploration of INTERSUBJECTIVITY is continued. Different kinds of if are differentiated and signs for its presence and effects are shown. The difference between it, subjectivity and objectivity are explored. Intersubjectivity is crucial and universal for general everyday discourse in all cultures, sub-cultures, institutions, communities and socio-cultural practices such as religion, sport, etc or the so-called Manifest Image. It is essential for specialized areas, for example religion, sport and disciplines such as the humanities, arts, sciences, philosophy and all institutions. It is (...)
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  10. William James on Conceptions and Private Language.Henry Jackman - 2017 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 30:175-193.
    William James was one of the most frequently cited authors in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, but the attention paid to James’s Principles of Psycho- logy in that work is typically explained in terms of James having ‘committed in a clear, exemplary manner, fundamental errors in the philosophy of mind.’ (Goodman 2002, p. viii.) The most notable of these ‘errors’ was James’s purported commitment to a conception of language as ‘private’. Commentators standardly treat James as committed to a conception of language as (...)
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  11. Is There Such a Thing as Pragmatics?--Review of Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics 2nd Ed (2009).Michael Starks - 2016 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018. Michael Starks. pp. 381-399.
    Clearly neither I nor anyone will ever read any substantial part of this massive tome so I will discuss the one article that interests me most and which I think provides the framework necessary for the understanding of all the rest. I refer to the one on Ludwig Wittgenstein (W). Even were I to try to discuss others, we would not get past the first page as all the issues here arise immediately in any discussion of behavior. The differentiation of (...)
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  12. Représentationnalisme et langage privé : une défense wittgensteinienne du caractère non-représentationnel de la phénoménalité.François Kammerer - 2015 - Philosophie 126 (3):62.
    Dans « Représentationnalisme et langage privé », François Kammerer s’attache à la thèse dite du représentationnalisme qui, au regard de la conscience phénoménale, pose que les propriétés qualitatives d’une expérience consciente sont entièrement déterminées par ses propriétés représentationnelles ; de nombreux arguments ont été proposés en faveur de cette thèse, qui est devenue l’orthodoxie en philosophie de l’esprit contemporaine. L’auteur entend réfuter les arguments les plus significatifs, en se fondant sur des considérations de Wittgenstein sur l’impossibilité d’un « langage privé (...)
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  13. Another Look at the Rule‐Following Paradox.Greg Janzen - 2014 - Philosophical Forum 45 (1):69-88.
    Saul Kripke has famously argued that the central question of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, at least in relation to Wittgenstein's discussion of meaning, is the question: what facts determine that a speaker is following a particular rule? For example, assuming that language-use is a rule-governed activity, what facts determine that the rule a speaker is complying with in her current usage of a word is equivalent to the rule she complied with in her previous usage of the word? According to Kripke, (...)
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  14. “It is Not a Something, but Not a Nothing Either!”—McDowell on Wittgenstein.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):557-567.
    This paper corrects a mistake in John McDowell’s influential reading of Wittgenstein’s attack on the idea of private sensations. McDowell rightly identifies a primary target of Wittgenstein’s attack to be the Myth of the Given. But he also suggests that Wittgenstein, in the ferocity of his battles with this myth, sometimes goes into overkill, which manifests itself in seemingly behavioristic denials about sensations. But this criticism of Wittgenstein is a mistake. The mistake is made over two important but notoriously difficult (...)
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  15. Wittgenstein and the Dualism of the Inner and the Outer.Hao Tang - 2014 - Synthese 191 (14):3173-3194.
    A dualism characteristic of modern philosophy is the conception of the inner and the outer as two independently intelligible domains. Wittgenstein’s attack on this dualism contains deep insights. The main insight (excavated from §304 and §293 of the Philosophical Investigations) is this: our sensory consciousness is deeply shaped by language and this shaping plays a fundamental role in the etiology of the dualism. I locate this role in the learning of a sensation-language (as described in §244), by showing that this (...)
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  16. Jezik in javno: reorganizacija trivija v Lockovem Eseju in v Portroyalski logiki.Gregor Kroupa - 2013 - Filozofski Vestnik 34 (3):57-74.
    "Language and its Public Features: Reorganizing the Trivium in Locke's Essay and Port-Royal Logic" The new theory of language in the 17th century coincides with the end the traditional order of disciplines in the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric), which in the mediaeval times provided a comprehensive view of the problems of discourse. The article focuses on some key passages in Port-Royal Logic and Locke's Essay that provide us with a typical early modern scheme of linguistic representation, characterised by heavily (...)
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  17. Kripke's Account of the Rule‐Following Considerations.Andrea Guardo - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):366-388.
    This paper argues that most of the alleged straight solutions to the sceptical paradox which Kripke ascribed to Wittgenstein can be regarded as the first horn of a dilemma whose second horn is the paradox itself. The dilemma is proved to be a by‐product of a foundationalist assumption on the notion of justification, as applied to linguistic behaviour. It is maintained that the assumption is unnecessary and that the dilemma is therefore spurious. To this end, an alternative conception of the (...)
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  18. Los argumentos del lenguaje privado. Notas para la reconstrucción de una controversia.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2012 - Fenomenologia. Diálogos Possíveis Campinas: Alínea/Goiânia: Editora da Puc Goiás 92:73-124.
    Intentaremos reconstruir la controversia acerca de la posibilidad de un lenguaje privado. Analizamos primero las posiciones “epistemológicas” (Malcolm y Fogelin), mostrando sus fallos. Luego analizamos la versión “semántica” (Kenny y Tugendhat) encontrándolas igualmente fallidas. La crítica de Barry Stroud a los argumentos trascendentales como argumentos antiescépticos nos permite discernir el presupuesto común que debilita las posiciones anteriores. Asimismo, la reconstrucción permite apreciar mejor la manera en la que la versión de Kripke evita comprometerse con este presupueto. Argumentamos que esta versión (...)
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  19. Reality and Concepts (in French).Francois-Igor Pris - 2012 - AL-MUKHATABAT (04):227-240.
  20. In Defence of Kripkenstein: On Lewis' Proposed Solution to the Sceptical Argument.John Newson Wright - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):603-621.
    Abstract In Wittgenstein: On Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke argues for an extreme form of meaning scepticism. One influential reply to Kripke?s arguments was developed by David Lewis. The reply developed by Lewis makes use of the notion of mind-independent relations of similarity and difference. The aim of the paper is to argue that Lewis? reply is not satisfactory: the challenge to find a refutation of Kripke?s sceptical arguments remains unmet.
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  21. The Inner Word Prior to Language: Augustine as Platonist Alternative to Gadamerian Hermeneutics.Phillip Cary - 2011 - Philosophy Today 55 (2):192-198.
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  22. Quine’s Behaviorism and Linguistic Meaning: Why Quine’s Behaviorism is Not Illicit.Tyrus Fisher - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (1):51-59.
    Some of Quine’s critics charge that he arrives at a behavioristic account of linguistic meaning by starting from inappropriately behavioristic assumptions (Kripke 1982, 14; Searle 1987, 123). Quine has even written that this account of linguistic meaning is a consequence of his behaviorism (Quine 1992, 37). I take it that the above charges amount to the assertion that Quine assumes the denial of one or more of the following claims: (1) Language-users associate mental ideas with their linguistic expressions. (2) A (...)
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  23. El Argumento Del Lenguaje Privado a Contrapelo.Pedro Karczmarczyk (ed.) - 2011 - Editorial de la Universidad de la Plata (Edulp).
    La tesis de la privacidad linguitica nace con el gesto fundador de la filosofía moderna que apoya toda legitimidad en la subjetividad y la conciencia. Ello da origen a dos problemas filos�ficos fundamentales, concernientes al mundo y al solipsismo. El siglo XX creyó encontrar en el lenguaje una salida a estos problemas. Wittgenstein es allí una pieza clave. Sin embargo las interpretaciones más influyentes de Wittgenstein enfocaron la crítica del lenguaje privado de tal modo que la salida debía permanecer en (...)
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  24. Phenomenal Concepts and the Private Language Argument.David Papineau - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2):175.
    In this paper I want to consider whether the 'phenomenal concepts' posited by many recent philosophers of mind are consistent with Wittgenstein’s private language argument. The paper will have three sections. In the first I shall explain the rationale for positing phenomenal concepts. In the second I shall argue that phenomenal concepts are indeed inconsistent with the private language argument. In the last I shall ask whether this is bad for phenomenal concepts or bad for Wittgenstein.
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  25. Private Language.David G. Stern - 2011 - In Marie McGinn & Oskari Kuusela (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein. Oxford University Press.
    Ludwig Wittgenstein's treatment of private language has received more attention than any other aspect of his philosophy. Yet, for more than fifty years, a remarkably self-contained exegetical tradition has defined the terms of debate and the principal positions that are discussed. Orthodox interpreters hold that the proof that a private language is impossible turns on showing it is ruled out by some set of systematic philosophical commitments about logic, meaning, and knowledge. Leading candidates for this ground on which the argument (...)
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  26. Wherefore the Failure of Private Ostension?George Wrisley - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):483 - 498.
    ?258 of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is often seen as the core of his private language argument. While its role is certainly overinflated and it is a mistake to think that there is anything that could be called the private language argument, ?258 is an important part of the private language sections of the Philosophical Investigations. As with so much of Wittgenstein's work, there are widely diverse interpretations of why exactly the private diarist's attempted ostensive definition fails. I argue for a (...)
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  27. Music, Essential Metaphor, and Private Language.Nick Zangwill - 2011 - American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1):1.
    Music is elusive. describing it is problematic. In particular its aesthetic properties cannot be captured in literal description. Beyond very simple terms, they cannot be literally described. In this sense, the aesthetic description of music is essentially nonliteral. An adequate aesthetic description of music must have resort to metaphor or other nonliteral devices. I maintain that this is because of the nature of the aesthetic properties being described. I defend this view against an apparently simple objection put by Malcolm Budd. (...)
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  28. Review of Stephen Mulhall, Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in PI 243-515. [REVIEW]Oskari Kuusela - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):867-869.
  29. Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§243-315 (Review). [REVIEW]Marie McGinn - 2010 - Philosophy and Literature 34 (1):pp. 265-269.
    The primary concern of Stephen Mulhall's book is to investigate an interpretation of Wittgenstein's remarks on private language, associated paradigmatically with Norman Malcolm. On this reading, the grammar of our ordinary concepts of language, reference, meaning, rule, etc. is held to prohibit or exclude the idea of a private language. The attempt to give expression to the idea is held to result in a violation of the grammar of these concepts, which connects them essentially with the idea of public criteria (...)
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  30. Tracing the Development of Wittgenstein’s Writing on Private Language.David G. Stern - 2010 - In Nuno Venturinha (ed.), Wittgenstein after His Nachlass. Palgrave-Macmillan.
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  31. Another Strand in the Private Language Argument.David G. Stern - 2010 - In Arif Ahmed (ed.), Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press.
    The title of this chapter is borrowed from John McDowell's ‘One strand in the private language argument’ (1998b). In that paper, he argues that much of what is best in Wittgenstein's discussion of private language can be seen as a development of the Kantian insight that there is no such thing as an unconceptualized experience - that even the most elementary sensation must have a conceptual aspect. On McDowell's view, a sensation is a ‘perfectly good something - an object, if (...)
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  32. Il mito del dato.Andrea Guardo - 2009 - Milano-Udine: Mimesis.
    "Mente e mondo", il libro che raccoglie le tanto celebrate quanto discusse "John Locke Lectures" di John McDowell, appartiene ad un genere filosofico classico, quello dell'"indagine sui poteri della mente umana". Secondo McDowell, un'indagine di questo tipo è necessaria alla risoluzione di alcuni fra i principali problemi epistemologici e semantici. Attraverso una dettagliata analisi dei lavori di McDowell ed un'approfondita discussione del problema del "seguire una regola" e del connesso paradosso di Kripke-Wittgenstein, questo volume cerca di dimostrare che la posizione (...)
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  33. Su che cosa si pretende dal significato.Andrea Guardo - 2009 - Acme 62 (1):335-347.
    Una difesa di una soluzione antirealista al paradosso del seguire una regola.
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  34. Psychological Investigations: The Private Language Argument and Inferences in Contemporary Cognitive Science.C. D. Meyers & Sara Waller - 2009 - Synthese 171 (1):135-156.
    Some of the methods for data collection in experimental psychology, as well as many of the inferences from observed behavior or image scanning, are based on the implicit premise that language use can be linked, via the meaning of words, to specific subjective states. Wittgenstein’s well known private language argument (PLA), however, calls into question the legitimacy of such inferences. According to a strong interpretation of PLA, all of the elements of a language must be publicly available. Thus the meaning (...)
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  35. The Private Language Argument.Bede Rundle - 2009 - In P. M. S. Hacker, Hans-Johann Glock & John Hyman (eds.), Wittgenstein and Analytic Philosophy: Essays for P. M. S. Hacker. Oxford University Press.
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  36. Private Language.Stewart Candlish - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    cannot understand the language.”[1] This is not intended to cover (easily imaginable) cases of recording one's experiences in a personal code, for such a code, however obscure in fact, could in principle be deciphered. What Wittgenstein had in mind is a language conceived as necessarily comprehensible only to its single originator because the things which define its vocabulary are necessarily inaccessible to others.
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  37. Private Language Thesis and its Epistemological Import: A Study in Philosophy of Language.Benjamin Ike Ewelu - 2008 - Delta Publications.
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  38. A Critique of Saul Kripke's "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language".Chrysoula Gitsoulis - 2008 - Dissertation, Graduate Center, City University of New York
    In Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Saul Kripke presents a controversial skeptical argument, which he attributes to Wittgenstein’s interlocutor in the Philosophical Investigations [PI]. The argument purports to show that there are no facts that correspond to what we mean by our words. Kripke maintains, moreover, that the conclusion of Wittgenstein’s so-called private language argument is a corollary of results Wittgenstein establishes in §§137-202 of PI concerning the topic of following-a-rule, and not the conclusion of an independently developed argument (...)
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  39. Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations §§243–315 – By Stephen Mulhall. [REVIEW]Steven Hall - 2008 - Philosophical Investigations 31 (3):272-280.
  40. The Evolution of the Private Language Argument.Keld Stehr Nielsen - 2008 - Routledge.
    Takes a look at early discussions of the private language argument in the Vienna Circle and the influence of Wittgenstein's ideas. This book examines the relation between the early and later Wittgenstein on this subject.
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  41. Rule-Following, Explanation-Transcendence, and Private Language.Cyrus Panjvani - 2008 - Mind 117 (466):303-328.
    I examine what I take to be an important consideration for the later Wittgenstein: the understanding of a rule does not exceed or transcend an understanding of explanations or instructions in the rule. I contend that this consideration plays a central role in the later Wittgenstein's views on rule-following. I first show that it serves as a key premiss in a sceptical argument concerning our ability to follow rules. I then argue that this consideration is vital to Wittgenstein's case against (...)
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  42. Review: Stephen Mulhall: Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations 243-315. [REVIEW]G. Schonbaumsfeld - 2008 - Mind 117 (468):1108-1112.
  43. Searle and De Soto: The New Ontology of the Social World.Barry Smith - 2008 - In Barry Smith, David Mark & Isaac Ehrlich (eds.), The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality. Open Court. pp. 35-51.
    Consider a game of blind chess between two chess masters that is recorded in some standard chess notation. The recording is a representation of the game. But what is the game itself? This question is, we believe, central to the entire domain of social ontology. We argue that the recorded game is a special sort of quasi-abstract pattern, something that is: (i) like abstract entities such as numbers or forms, in that it is both nonphysical and nonpsychological; but at the (...)
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  44. Review of Stephen Mulhall, Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 143–315[REVIEW]John Troyer - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (4):383-384.
  45. Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 143–315 ‐ By Stephen Mulhall. [REVIEW]John Troyer - 2008 - Philosophical Books 49 (4):383-384.
  46. Review of Stephen Mulhall, Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, ##243-315[REVIEW]Charles Crittenden - 2007 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (5).
  47. Language, Identity and Multiculturalism.Gabriel Furmuzachi - 2007 - Logos.
    With Augustine and especially with Wittgenstein, we see that when we use language we negotiate a meaning since language is something we acquire in a community. On the other hand, Chomsky argues that language is something that happens to us, rather than something we learn. We attempt to bring these two positions in a balance by following Davidson's ideas on meaning and radical interpretation, which gives us a way to keep meaning (what someone thinks) and belief (what someone holds true (...)
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  48. Estudio crítico: Martin Kusch A Sceptical Guide to Meaning and Rules. Defending Kripke's Wittgenstein, Montreal and Kingston, Ithaca, McGuill-Queen's University Press, 2006.Pedro Karczmarczyk - 2007 - Fenomenologia. Diálogos Possíveis Campinas: Alínea/Goiânia: Editora da Puc Goiás 42 (89):157-188.
    El presente trabajo es un estudio del libro de Martin Kusch acerca den las tesis sostenidas en "Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language" (WRPL) por Saul Kripke examinado a la luz de la controversia desatada por la publicación del mismo en 1982, una de las más intensas que han ocurrido en los últimos 25 años en el seno de la filosofía analítica. En nuestro estudio procedemos en tres etapas. En la primera, presentaremos el desafío del Wittgenstein de Kripke de una (...)
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  49. Private Language: Recognizing a Useful Nonsense. [REVIEW]Laxminarayan Lenka - 2007 - AI and Society 21 (1-2):14-26.
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  50. Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense, and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, Sections 243-315.Stephen Mulhall - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    Stephen Mulhall offers a new way of interpreting one of the most famous and contested texts in modern philosophy: remarks on "private language" in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. He sheds new light on a central controversy concerning Wittgenstein's early work by showing its relevance to a proper understanding of the later work.
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