Memory, expression, and past-tense self-knowledge

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):54–76 (2006)
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How should we understand our capacity to remember our past intentional states? And what can we learn from Wittgenstein's treatment of this topic? Three questions are considered. First, what is the relation between our past attitudes and our present beliefs about them? Realism about past attitudes is defended. Second, how should we understand Wittgenstein's view that self-ascriptions of past attitudes are a kind of "response" and that the "language-game" of reporting past attitudes is "the primary thing"? The epistemology and metaphysics of past-tense self-ascription are examined in the light of those comments, and our acquisition of the concept of past attitudes is discussed. Third, does Wittgenstein give us reason to think that the identity of a past attitude may be constituted,not by anything that was true of the subject at the time, but by her retrospective tendency to self-ascribe it? It is argued that, contrary to some interpretations, he does not



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William Child
Oxford University

References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Remarks on the foundations of mathematics.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1967 - Oxford [Eng.]: Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe, Rush Rhees & G. H. von Wright.

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