First-Person Knowledge: Wittgenstein, Cavell, and "Therapy"

The recent publication of The New Wittgenstein signals the arrival of a distinctive "therapeutic" reading of Ludwig Wittgenstein"s philosophical enterprise. As announced in its Preface, this collection presents the "nonsense" of philosophy as the subject of Wittgenstein"s therapeutic work. The simple, plain nonsense of many philosophical remarks is revealed under the scrutiny of Wittgenstein"s investigations, according to this interpretation, leading us to see that such remarks "fail to make any claim at all" (Crary 6). This view of Wittgenstein"s use of "nonsense" as a term of criticism begins with the work of Stanley Cavell, on this account, and has extended more recently to work on a wide area of Wittgenstein"s concerns, elevating "nonsense" to a central position in his philosophy. This paper argues that, in at least one case of Wittgenstein"s talk of nonsense, this "therapeutic reading" (Crary 7) oversimplifies the subtlety of Wittgenstein"s writing. Indeed, one of the most prominent cases of "nonsense" in the later Wittgenstein concerns the remark "I know I am in pain". Though Wittgenstein repeatedly treats this remark as nonsense, this treatment is not final in his philosophy of psychology. Rather, though his rich discussion in the later manuscripts of the indeterminacy of psychological judgments, the relation of these judgments to knowledge, and the role of first-person psychological descriptions, Wittgenstein is able to find what sense a remark such as "I know I am in pain" might perhaps have. "I know I am in pain" may be called nonsense, but this is not the last word on the matter in Wittgenstein"s text: as Cavell says, ""it makes no sense to say these things" (in the way we think it does)" (Cavell 70). Wittgenstein is able to find what sense our remarks of first person psychological knowledge might have, contrary to what the therapeutic reading in The New Wittgenstein would have us suppose. Therefore, at least in one case, the therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein goes wrong
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 61,064
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The New Wittgenstein (Review). [REVIEW]Anton Alterman - 2001 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 39 (3):456-457.
A “Resolute” Later Wittgenstein?Genia Schönbaumsfeld - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (5):649-668.
Contextualism and Nonsense in Wittgenstein's Tractatus.Edmund Dain - 2006 - South African Journal of Philosophy 25 (2):91-101.
Ethics and Private Language.Duncan Richter - 2010 - Philosophical Topics 38 (1):181-203.
Wittgenstein in America.Timothy G. McCarthy & Sean C. Stidd (eds.) - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Wittgenstein, Carnap and the New American Wittgensteinians.P. M. S. Hacker - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):01–23.
The Wittgenstein Reader.Anthony Kenny (ed.) - 2005 - Blackwell.
Grammatical Therapy and the Third Wittgenstein.Rom Harré - 2008 - Metaphilosophy 39 (4-5):484-491.


Added to PP index

Total views
57 ( #182,563 of 2,439,667 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #432,499 of 2,439,667 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes