The Geometry of Partial Understanding

American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (3):249-262 (2013)

Colin Allen
University of Pittsburgh
Wittgenstein famously ended his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Wittgenstein 1922) by writing: "Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence." (Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.) In that earliest work, Wittgenstein gives no clue about whether this aphorism applied to animal minds, or whether he would have included philosophical discussions about animal minds as among those displaying "the most fundamental confusions (of which the whole of philosophy is full)" (1922, TLP 3.324), but given his later writings on language and thought, it seems a plausible hypothesis. Years later he wrote in the Philosophical Investigations (1968, p. 223) another aphoristic statement: "If a lion could speak, we would not understand him." (Wenn der Löwe sprechen könnte, wir könnten ihn nicht verstehen.) Decades of philosophical discussion about what Wittgenstein meant by these remarks illustrate another point: when philosophers speak, we do not fully understand them.
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Knowledge and the Flow of Information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.

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Citations of this work BETA

Animal Cognition.Kristin Andrews - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Chimpanzee Mind Reading: Don't Stop Believing.Kristin Andrews - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (1):e12394.
Models, Mechanisms, and Animal Minds.Colin Allen - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (S1):75-97.

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