Philosophical Investigations 32 (4):319-328 (2009)

William Child has said that Wittgenstein is an anti-realist with respect to a person's dreams, recent thoughts that he has consciously entertained and other things. I discuss Wittgenstein's comments about these matters in order to show that they do not commit him to an anti-realist view or a realist view. He wished to discredit the idea that when a person reports his dream or his thoughts, or past intentions, the person is reading off the contents of his mind or memory. Reporting what one dreamt or recently thought is not like reporting what one has just read. The language is different, and the criterion of truth is different. The anti-realist is able to explain why the reports of thoughts, for instance, are "guaranteed" to be true (PI II, 222) by stipulating that the character and existence of the past thought is constituted by an inclination to assert that one had that past thought so the assertion could not be false. This could not be Wittgenstein's view. What does "guarantee" the truth of such an assertion is the fact that the person himself is the principle authority on what he dreamt, thought, and intended, something which "stands fast" for us. I next consider Crispin Wright's account of Wittgenstein's ideas about intentions and point out that his assumption that person always makes a judgement as to whether his action conforms to his intention is clearly false. And he is wrong in attributing to Wittgenstein the idea that an intention does not have a determinate content prior to its author's judgement about whether the action conforms to the intention, an idea that is obscure. If this were accurate, it would be a mystery why we do anything, or, at least, why our actions ever conform to our intentions.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9205.2009.01385.x
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