In Harald A. Wiltsche & Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl (eds.), Analytic and Continental Philosophy: Methods and Perspectives. Proceedings of the 37th International Wittgenstein Symposium. De Gruyter. pp. 47-62 (2016)

Christian Wenzel
National Taiwan University
In this essay I to do three things. First, I discuss a statement from the Tractatus which says that our free will consists in our ignorance of future actions: “The freedom of the will consists in the impossibility of knowing actions that still lie in the future. We could know them only if causality were an inner necessity like that of logical inference.” (5.1362) I think this statement might well be inspired by a claim Moore made in connection with free will in his 1912 book Ethics: “We can hardly ever know for certain beforehand, which choice we actually shall make”. But I think Moore’s claim in favor of free will is not convincing. Second, I discuss a question raised in Philosophical Investigations. Wittgenstein asks what remains if we “subtract” the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm, and he adds in brackets: “Are the kinaesthetic sensations my willing?” (621) This added reflection is a reaction to ideas put forward by William James. Wittgenstein opposes these ideas. He argues that we should not think of the will as a cause at all, kinaesthetic or not, but rather as something embedded in, and constituted by, certain contexts of learning, expectation, practice, and lack of surprise. This is a strong claim. He also returns to the question about the predictability of the future: “When people talk about the possibility of foreknowledge of the future they always forget the fact of the prediction of one’s own voluntary movements” (629). The question is whether Wittgenstein has solved, or dissolved, the problem of free will. Some think that this is the case. I doubt it is. This is the third point I wish to discuss.
Keywords Wittgenstein  Free Will
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DOI 10.1515/9783110450651-004
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