One of the most notorious — and dismissive — passages in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations is Part II section xiv, which begins like this: The confusion and barrenness of psychology is not to be explained by calling it a “young science”; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings. (Rather with that of certain branches of mathematics. Set theory.) For in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion. (As in the other case conceptual confusion and methods of proof.) The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems which trouble us; though problem and method pass one another by. Strong words. But we know that at one stage in his life Wittgenstein’s interest in psychology was sufficient for him to have done some experimental research, and that he was well acquainted with the work of at least some of the prominent psychologists active in his own lifetime. That is, his quoted remarks were not made from ignorance; and we should accordingly take them seriously enough to consider why he made them, what he had in mind, and to what extent — if any — they may have been (and, though this was all a long time ago, may still be) justified
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