Analytic Philosophy 54 (1):44-71 (2013)

The Private Language Sections of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, generally agreed to run from §§ 243 - 271, but extending to § 315 with the book’s continued treatment of the private object model and the inner and outer conception of the mind, have proved remarkably resistant to any generally agreed interpretation. Even today, ways of looking at these sections which were first in vogue half a century ago when discussions of this aspect of Wittgenstein’s work were at their height, still have their adherents, at a time when the emphasis in Wittgenstein exegesis has graduated towards anti-theoretical, non-doctrinal, and therapeutic conceptions of his entire methodology. Discussion about the rule-following considerations after Saul Kripke’s new interpretation of the argument against private language, which predominated during the last quarter of the 20th century, has tended to be superseded into the new millennium by controversy over substantial v resolute conceptions of nonsense in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a debate now seen by some interpreters to illuminate Wittgenstein’s later work.This paper sheds light on these complex matters firstly by studying a very popular interpretative approach to the relevant sections within its historical context, and secondly by attempting to grasp his overall methodology, primarily as practised in the private language passages themselves. This can help to show how they may reflect the content of §§ 89 -133. However, just as it can be argued that Hume never fully reconciles the sceptical and naturalistic tendencies in his writing, it can be surmised that Wittgenstein never really finds a proper balance between the avowedly therapeutic intent of those stated passages and what, at least for some commentators, are the clearly discoverable argumentative strategies that he employs throughout his treatment of private language and, indeed, throughout Part 1 of the Philosophical Investigations
Keywords WITTGENSTEIN  PRIVATE LANGUAGE ARGUMENT  Privacy  Philosophical Investigations § 258
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DOI 10.1111/phib.12005
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