Wittgenstein and Russell on psychology and other minds

Wittgenstein-Studien 1 (2) (1994)
This chapter focuses on sections iv and v of part II of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. In these sections Wittgenstein deals with two closely knit problems: our knowledge of other minds and the subject matter of psychology. The interpretation of Wittgenstein’s treatment of these problems cannot remain confined to these sections, however, as equally important references to these problems occur elsewhere in the Investigations as well as in the Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology. Moreover, Wittgenstein’s very treatment of the two problems is intertwined with his treatment of some other problems in the philosophy of psychology. For instance, in the context of his discussion of the subject matter of psychology, he points out analogies with problems pertaining to theories of perception. I take these analogies seriously and, therefore, a discussion of perception is interwoven as appropriately. Yet another preliminary remark. Although references to other philosophers and psychologists do not occur in sections iv and v, it does not follow that they were not written in response to others. On the contrary, a substantial part of these (and other) sections is the product of reflecting upon theories produced by Russell, James and Köhler. In my view, the best way to understand Wittgenstein is to involve the standpoints of his adversaries explicitly into the discussion. Otherwise seemingly trivial questions and condensed remarks, gain power and depth when explicitly seen as undermining and reversing dominant theories in philosophy and psychology
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