• Luke
    1.7k
    Luke, the concept of "a private language" is incoherent from the outset, so there is no point in trying to determine what Wittgenstein means by "private language".Metaphysician Undercover

    If we cannot understand what Wittgenstein means by a private language, then how does his private language have two conditions as you claim?

    Furthermore, I think that Wittgenstein presents this as a common occurrence and feature of natural language, that a private language-game (one in which the user of the language-game cannot be said to understand or know the language-game being played) gets integrated into the common language.Metaphysician Undercover

    How can the concept of a private language be incoherent on the one hand, but then a private language can exist and become integrated into the common language on the other hand? How can a private language exist if the concept of a private language is incoherent?

    A person could have a language, which oneself does not know or understand the usage of the words, yet the person could appear to understand the usage of the wordsMetaphysician Undercover

    In what sense could a person "have" this language? They don't know or understand the language, but yet they "have" it? How?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    If we cannot understand what Wittgenstein means by a private language, then how does his private language have two conditions as you claim?Luke

    Just like any logically incoherent proposal can have two conditions. That's why I presented the square circle example. In this example, the one alone is not logically incoherent, it is the inconsistency between the two which produces the incoherency.

    How can the concept of a private language be incoherent on the one hand, but then a private language can exist and become integrated into the common language on the other hand? How can a private language exist if the concept of a private language is incoherent?Luke

    This is why I explicitly referred to it as a "private language-game" rather than a "private language", to avoid this problem. What is presented at 258 is a language-game. A "language" consists of a multitude of language-games. The example at 258 is not an example of a "private language". We discussed this already, it is an example of a private language-game (the private use of S to name something) within the context of a common language (S is a sensation).

    In what sense could a person "have" this language? They don't know or understand the language, but yet they "have" it? How?Luke

    The person can have, and use this language In the same sense that the person has and uses the private language-game described at 258. We can imagine that a person might have an entire language full of such private language-games. This person does not know or understand the use of "S", but is still using "S".
    But in the present case I have no criterion of correctness. One would like to say: whatever is going to seem right to me is right. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'right' — PI 258

    What produces the incoherency in Wittgenstein's "private language" definition, is the condition that the person "knows' what the words refer to. If we remove this condition we could define "private language", such that the person has a "private" language, and does not know what the words refer to, as in the example at 258. But the person might still "appear to understand" what the words refer to (269). That is why 258 is not an example of a "private language" as defined at 243. The person at 258 does not "know" what the symbol "S" refers to, as required by 243.

    I believe that what Wittgenstein was trying to demonstrate is that any proposed form of a "private" language could not produce "knowledge", as knowledge is understood in epistemology, requiring justification. The proposed form of "private language", defined at 243, requires that the speaker knows what the words refer to, and so is ruled out as impossible. But other forms of "private" language, similar to the language-game described at 258, which consist of word use without knowing, might be very possible and very real.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Just like any logically incoherent proposal can have two conditions. That's why I presented the square circle example. In this example, the one alone is not logically incoherent, it is the inconsistency between the two which produces the incoherency.Metaphysician Undercover

    So your two conditions of the private language are:

    (i) it refers to one's immediate private sensations; and
    (ii) another person cannot understand it.

    Is that right? If so, what about:

    (iii) "the words of this language refer to what can only be known by the person speaking".

    How does this fit in? Is it another condition? How does it differ from (i) and (ii)?

    I don't consider these to be different conditions or criteria at all. Given your square circle example, your two conditions appear to be instead that:

    (i) it's a language; and
    (ii) it's private.

    That it's a language is a given in Wittgenstein's description. At 243 he describes how it's private: it refers to one's private sensations, it refers to what only the speaker knows, and another person cannot understand it.

    This is why I explicitly referred to it as a "private language-game" rather than a "private language", to avoid this problem. What is presented at 258 is a language-game. A "language" consists of a multitude of language-games. The example at 258 is not an example of a "private language". We discussed this already, it is an example of a private language-game (the private use of S to name something) within the context of a common language (S is a sensation).Metaphysician Undercover

    Nonsense. You cannot have a language-game without a language, and you cannot have a private language-game without a private language.

    The person can have, and use this language In the same sense that the person has and uses the private language-game described at 258.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is supposed that the person at 258 associates a certain sensation with the sign 'S'. Wittgenstein has us question the purpose of this ceremony and how or whether it could constitute a language, or a language-game.

    I shall also call the whole, consisting of language and the activities into which it is woven, a “language-game”. — PI 7


    We can imagine that a person might have an entire language full of such private language-games.Metaphysician Undercover

    I cannot imagine it.

    This person does not know or understand the use of "S", but is still using "S".Metaphysician Undercover

    How is it a language? The person is using "S" for what purpose?

    Don’t consider it a matter of course that a person is making a note of something when he makes a mark — say in a calendar. For a note has a function, and this “S” so far has none. — PI 260


    If we remove this condition we could define "private language", such that the person has a "private" language, and does not know what the words refer to, as in the example at 258.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is supposed that the person knows what "S" refers to at 258 because they are associating
    "S" with a certain sensation and "writ[ing] this sign in a calendar for every day on which [they] have the sensation."

    But the person might still "appear to understand" what the words refer to (269). That is why 258 is not an example of a "private language" as defined at 243.Metaphysician Undercover

    The language is not private because a person might appear to understand? What does "appear to understand" mean in terms of a private language? How can an outsider know how it appears to understand a private language?

    I believe that what Wittgenstein was trying to demonstrate is that any proposed form of a "private" language could not produce "knowledge", as knowledge is understood in epistemology, requiring justification.Metaphysician Undercover

    You said that a private language was an incoherent concept and that we cannot understand what Wittgenstein means by it, but you are now speaking as though it is not only a perfectly coherent concept, but that a private language could actually exist. That's quite a turnaround. Next you'll tell me that square circles can exist.

    The proposed form of "private language", defined at 243, requires that the speaker knows what the words refer to, and so is ruled out as impossible. But other forms of "private" language, similar to the language-game described at 258, which consist of word use without knowing, might be very possible and very real.Metaphysician Undercover

    So it's a private language but the speaker does not know what the words mean? How is it a language? What is it used for?

    There is no language-game described at 258. There is nothing more than an association of a sign with a sensation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    (iii) "the words of this language refer to what can only be known by the person speaking".

    How does this fit in? Is it another condition? How does it differ from (i) and (ii)?
    Luke

    You can take it as another condition if you want, that might be best way.

    Nonsense. You cannot have a language-game without a language, and you cannot have a private language-game without a private language.Luke

    Where's your proof of this? If a language consists of a multitude of language-games, then most likely there was a first language-game prior to there being a language.

    It is supposed that the person knows what "S" refers to at 258 because they are associating
    "S" with a certain sensation and "writ[ing] this sign in a calendar for every day on which [they] have the sensation."
    Luke

    It is explicitly stated at the end of 258, that there is no such thing as the correct use of S, there is no right here. "There is no criterion of correctness" Therefore we can conclude that the person cannot "know" the sensation called S. You seem to be missing the gist of the example. "I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation", does not mean that I actually can do that. "Want" implies a lack of. That I want to know my own sensations implies that I actually do not know them. The conclusion at the end of 258 is that I cannot come to know "a certain sensation" in the way proposed by the example.

    The language is not private because a person might appear to understand? What does "appear to understand" mean in terms of a private language? How can an outsider know how it appears to understand a private language?Luke

    Have you read 269 yet. I keep referring to it, and you refuse to acknowledge it, insisting that we must understand what "private language" at 243 means first. But you need to accept that "private language" as described at 243 is incoherent, and move along to Wittgenstein's next proposal of "private language", the one at 269, which is inconsistent with 243, as different from it. The definition at 243 has been demonstrated as incoherent because the person cannot "know" what the words refer to. So at 269, there is a proposal that the "private language" user has a "subjective understanding" of what the words refer to, rather than actually knowing what the words refer to as "private language" at 243 requires . In this sense of "private language", at 269, the person might "appear to understand", rather than actually "know" which is required at 243.

    You said that a private language was an incoherent concept and that we cannot understand what Wittgenstein means by it, but you are now speaking as though it is not only a perfectly coherent concept, but that a private language could actually exist. That's quite a turnaround. Next you'll tell me that square circles can exist.Luke

    Yes, the revised definition of "private language", offered at 269, is coherent, and describes something which could actually exist.

    So it's a private language but the speaker does not know what the words mean? How is it a language? What is it used for?Luke

    Perhaps you ought to read Wittgenstein a little bit closer, to provide yourself with a better understanding, then the answers to these questions might be revealed to you.

    There is no language-game described at 258. There is nothing more than an association of a sign with a sensation.Luke

    Why do you think that associating a sign with a sensation does not qualify to be called a "language-game"?
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