• Sam26
    1.8k
    Gertie says, "Experiential states exist as private certain knowledge to the experiencing subject.

    I want to specifically respond to statements like this, which is important to what Wittgenstein is saying in OC, and how it relates to the PLA in the PI.

    Private Language Argument (PI 243-315)

    In the Philosophical Investigations (PI 243) Wittgenstein starts by asking an important question. “But could we imagine a language in which a person could write down or give vocal expression to his inner experiences—his feelings, moods, and the rest—for his private use?” But don’t we often write down our feeling and moods, etc., in private? Wittgenstein replies, “This isn’t what I mean,” i.e., the words in this example are not something others understand. It’s a private language, i.e., it’s only known to him or her.

    Wittgenstein also asks, “How do words refer to sensations?—There doesn’t seem to be any problem here; don’t we talk about sensations every day and give them names?” However, the real question is how is the relationship between the name and its referent set up? How is it, Wittgenstein continues (I’m quoting and paraphrasing PI 244), that a human being learns the meaning of the names of their sensations? A child learns to connect their natural expression of pain with words, and later sentences. As the child learns how to associate language with their pain, the child is taught new pain-behavior. This, Wittgenstein points out, doesn’t mean that the word pain really means crying, the word pain replaces crying. It doesn’t describe it.

    In PI 246 Wittgenstein asks, “In what sense are my sensations private?”—Well, only I can know whether I am really in pain; another person can only surmise it.—In one way this is wrong, and in another nonsense. If we are using the word “to know” as it is normally used (and how else are to use it?), then other people very often know when I am in pain.—Yes, but all the same not with the certainty with which I know it myself!—It can’t be said of me at all (except perhaps as a joke) that I know I am in pain? What is it supposed to mean [my emphasis]—except perhaps that I am in pain?”

    Others know when you are in pain (unless you’re purposely hiding your pain), i.e., they’re justified in believing you’re in pain because of what you tell them, or because of your pain behavior (screams, cries, wincing, etc.). So, others are justified in their knowledge of your pain, but you’re not. You don’t justify to yourself that you’re in pain. This is senseless.

    So, you say to someone, “I am in pain,” they respond, “Are you sure, maybe you’re mistaken.” You see how silly it sounds. Making a claim to knowledge carries with it the idea that you’re justified in your belief, which is something that’s verified. Sometimes it turns out that my justification is unfounded. Hence, this is why Wittgenstein points out in OC 12 that knowing “…seems [note the word seems] to describe a state of affairs which guarantees what is known, guarantees it as a fact. One always forgets the expression ‘I thought I knew.’” It often turns out that we are wrong in our claims to know, but how would that work with having a pain, or any sensation we're having?

    I will continue the analysis of the PLA.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    I'll take first bite.

    It appears that Wittgenstein's private language argument is about, all things considered, the subjective nature of consciousness and how that bears on language.

    A private language is dedicated to those aspects of experience that can't be made public and thus, with nothing to refer to, given a sign in a private language, a person trying to learn or translate the sign can't do both. It's as if the sign were attached to a thread that extends back to its referent kept in a pitchblack room - no way of discovering the referent.

    Wittgenstein then claims, for the private language user, the only possible means by which fae can know that fae is using a word/sign in that private language correctly is to consult oneself and that's problematic for the simple reason that whatever seems/is thought to be correct will be taken as correct. The notion of correct usage becomes meaningless as the verificatory process is, at the end of the day, circular: If you're unsure whether a word/sign is being used correctly by you, how can you ask yourself to check whether a word/sign is being used correctly by you?

    A private language, therefore, is incoherent - there's a high probability it lacks the required level of consistency between sign/word and referent to qualify as a legit language. The sign-referent pairing could be virtually random and the private language user wouldn't have the slightest clue - fae can't ask faerself to clear faer own doubt, fae doubts precisely because fae can't clear faer doubt.
  • Marchesk
    4.4k
    It often turns out that we are wrong in our claims to know, but how would that work with having a pain, or any sensation we're having?Sam26

    So we can't say, "I know that I see a red coffee cup", or "I know that I had a dream last night of my teeth falling out while addressing an audience in my underwear as a tsunami approached"?

    That seems to undermine empiricism. Of course we know things based on having experiences. Sensations make up those experiences.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    It appears that Wittgenstein's private language argument is about, all things considered, the subjective nature of consciousness and how that bears on language.TheMadFool

    My take is that it's not so much about the "nature or consciousness," but about the nature of language against the backdrop of consciousness. But ya, there is definitely something to be said about consciousness when analyzing Wittgenstein's comments over all. However, it seems to be more of an aside. It would be interesting though to study consciousness through Wittgenstein's eyes.

    Wittgenstein then claims, for the private language user, the only possible means by which fae can know that fae is using a word/sign in that private language correctly is to consult oneself and that's problematic for the simple reason that whatever seems/is thought to be correct will be taken as correct. The notion of correct usage becomes meaningless as the verificatory process is, at the end of the day, circular: If you're unsure whether a word/sign is being used correctly by you, how can you ask yourself to check whether a word/sign is being used correctly by you?TheMadFool

    I think we agree here, except for the idea that it's circular. I'm not sure about that, you may be correct though, but it depends on how the argument is framed.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    So we can't say, "I know that I see a red coffee cup", or "I know that I had a dream last night of my teeth falling out while addressing an audience in my underwear as a tsunami approached"?Marchesk

    As to the first question, "I know that I see a red coffee cup," whether one knows it or not depends on the context. There are situations where it would make sense to make such a statement, viz., maybe the lightening is poor, or you're closer to the object than someone else who's enquiring about the object, etc. But generally speaking, and this is the same with Moore's statements, it's senseless to say, as we're both sitting in front of a red cup, that you know that you see a red cup. As Wittgenstein points out, what does this amount to, other than, "It's a red cup." Is there some legitimate doubt here? If there is, then yes, the "I know..." would make sense.

    Your second example is even more problematic, because it's difficult to think of an example in which it would make sense to say, "I know that I had a dream last night..." Maybe if someone was learning English it might make sense, i.e., learning to use the word dream. Maybe some of this will become clearer as we go through Wittgenstein's argument, or maybe you'll just never agree with W.

    That seems to undermine empiricism. Of course we know things based on having experiences. Sensations make up those experiences.Marchesk

    I don't think this affects empiricism at all, because there are things that we can legitimately doubt, that do need an empirical analysis, or an empirical justification. Wittgenstein wouldn't deny this. Do you have to justify to yourself that you had a dream last night? No. You just say you had a dream, and you may describe the dream, but that's about it. Unless you know someone is being deceitful, but that's something else entirely.
  • Joshs
    2k
    others are justified in their knowledge of your pain, but you’re not. You don’t justify to yourself that you’re in pain. This is senseless.Sam26

    We could be feeling a vague , ambiguous sensation that at times seems like pain and at other times like a tickle or distraction. The context (bodily-cognitive-affective-social) determines what exactly it is we think we are feeling. And when we determine a sensation to be pain, we are not simply consulting an already extent fact, but construing a fresh variant , a new contextual use of ‘pain’. Wittgenstein is right that the pointing to a feeling and construing it as ‘pain’ is not the consulting of an inner domain. In making this argument , he always uses interpersonal situations as examples of the social , the language game. But the social begins even prior to the interpersonal understood this way. Between I and myself there is a social , an other that intervenes the moment I point to an experience. This sociality doesnt require the presence of other ‘persons’ to participate in the game. The game is already underfoot between ‘I’ and myself. It is not public in the sense of a between-person interaction , but neither is it private in the sense of an inner repository of referents.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    But the social begins even prior to the interpersonal understood this way. Between I and myself there is a social , an other that intervenes the moment I point to an experience. This sociality doesnt require the presence of other ‘persons’ to participate in the game. The game is already underfoot between ‘I’ and myself.Joshs

    My reaction to this, is that the word social, as you're using it, is not a normal use of the word. Social contexts require other people, we don't refer to the "I and myself," as something social. Besides what's the difference between the "I' and "myself," it seems to me you're describing the same person, viz., you.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    My take is that it's not so much about the "nature or consciousness," but about the nature of language against the backdrop of consciousness. But ya, there is definitely something to be said about consciousness when analyzing Wittgenstein's comments over all. However, it seems to be more of an aside. It would be interesting though to study consciousness through Wittgenstein's eyes.Sam26

    I brought up consciousness because Wittgenstein, despite his exceptional ability to find good examples, only uses ones that are about consciousness, specifically that aspect (sensation) which philosophers term qualia which I hear is a hot topic in mind philosophy. He didn't have a choice which has its own point to make about the relationship between consciousness and language viz. we can't think about, linguistically, private mental experiences in a consistent/coherent manner.

    I think we agree here, except for the idea that it's circular. I'm not sure about that, you may be correct though, but it depends on how the argument is framed.Sam26

    I have my doubts too - I skimmed through the Wikipedia and Stanford Enyclopedia Of Philosophy articles on private language argment and pieced together the puzzle as best as I could.

    How's it going at your end? Any progress?
  • Shawn
    11.8k
    I don't see how a 'pain' can be justified. A pain is experienced...
  • Joshs
    2k
    My reaction to this, is that the word social, as you're using it, is not a normal use of the word. Social contexts require other people, we don't refer to the "I and myself," as something social. Besides what's the difference between the "I' and "myself," it seems to me you're describing the same person, viz., you.Sam26

    My understanding of self here comes from phenomenological philosophy, particularly Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty( also Derrida). For them self is not an entity, it is a constantly transforming interaction with world. They abandon the idea of outer and inner. The self is always outside of itself , coming back to itself from the world. To the extent that my use of social isn’t ‘normal’ it is not because it denies immediate expose use to an outside , an alterity , the foreign and the empirical, but because it is claiming such an exposure isnt restricted to interaction with other ‘persons’.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    I'm actually having this same discussion in two forums, so it's difficult to keep up. I'll try to respond as soon as possible, but I also have to keep the PLA argument going from the PI. There are a lot more passages to analyze.

    I don't see how a 'pain' can be justified. A pain is experienced...Shawn

    Yes, the argument is that you don't know you're in pain, i.e., you don't justify it to yourself, you just have the pain. We say, "I'm in pain." However, we can justify to ourselves and others that someone else is in pain, i.e., by observing their pain behavior, so there is an important difference.
  • Shawn
    11.8k
    However, we can justify to ourselves and others that someone else is in pain, i.e., by observing their pain behavior, so there is an important difference.Sam26

    Why the talk about 'justification' when this fact of being in pain can be discerned from behavior?
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    Why the talk about 'justification' when this fact of being in pain can be discerned from behavior?Shawn

    You're right, in many cases it doesn't even make sense to say, "I know Mary is in pain," it would be like Wittgenstein's example of a sick man lying in bed, and I say to you, "I know there is a sick man lying in bed," sounds a bit off to say the least, so yes you're right. However, I can imagine a case where it would make sense to have to justify to you that Mary's in pain, i.e., where a doubt might arise. But I can't imagine a case where I would have to justify to myself that I'm in pain. The difference between the statements "I know I'm in pain," and "I know Mary's in pain." A doubt in the former statement seems quite senseless, but a doubt in the latter statement is easily imagined. Maybe a doubt might occur in the former statement if you're questioning your use of the word know because your learning English, so maybe it can be imagined.
  • Shawn
    11.8k


    As Wittgenstein might put it, it would seem queer to doubt someone is in pain based on ostensive displays of behavior indicating them being in pain.

    But, yes I don't think it would be possible to doubt yourself that you are in pain. It's rather bedrock at this point.
  • Ennui Elucidator
    270


    This is likely a distraction, but what happens with the past tense? Say you don't generally justify that you know you are dreaming (you are asleep after all), but then you are talking to someone and they say, "You look good in that."

    Sometime later you think to yourself, "Who told me I look good in this?" You think awhile and can't remember, but has the occasion slips further into the past you begin to feel increasingly unmoored from the memory - like it is a transient thing that you have a glimpse of but as no real content. In fits and spurts it happens and then one day you think to yourself, "I must have dreamt that." Time passes and you come to believe that you know you were dreaming when you heard it, as that is what your memory consists of.

    Now you meet the same person again and by chance you are wearing the same thing. The person says, "You look good in that." You respond, "Ha. The last time you said that was in my dreams." The person responds, "Why do you think you were dreaming?" And you respond "I know I was dreaming."

    What work does "I know" do?
  • Shawn
    11.8k
    What work does "I know" do?Ennui Elucidator

    A very vague one, until specified.
  • Joshs
    2k
    What work does "I know" do?Ennui Elucidator

    There is a shared context here of agreed access to remembered dreams. Their question “Why do you think you were dreaming “? almost certainly suggests to you that they also remember their dreams , or at least know when they have dreamt, and is questioning you on that basis. So your claim to ‘know’ implies your preparedness to share your method of ascertaining that knowledge with them , via recollection of a dream. Your claim to know anticipates his potential interest in probing your ability to demonstrate to them the reasons for your confidence that you were dreaming it.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    What work does "I know" do?Ennui Elucidator

    My guess is that it expresses a person's emotional need to underscore their certainty and has rhetorical use.
  • DanLager
    25
    For them self is not an entity, it is a constantly transforming interaction with world. They abandon the idea of outer and inner. The self is always outside of itself , coming back to itself from the world. To the extent that my use of social isn’t ‘normal’ it is not because it denies immediate expose use to an outside , an alterity , the foreign and the empirical, but because it is claiming such an exposure is more restricted to interaction with other ‘persons’.Joshs

    "Them" are too abstract. "You" is just the bodily you, talking, feeling, gesturing, feeling angry or in love, seeing ideas and dreams and thoughts in your inner world, perceiving colors and forms in the physical world, etcetera. All thanks to the brain inside of you, that brain being the generator of your inner world, you in between this brain (inner world() and the physical world (outer world).
  • Ennui Elucidator
    270
    The issue here isn't so much one of what "I know" means as such, but whether we justify our internal states to ourselves. I am responding a bit to what Sam said here:

    others are justified in their knowledge of your pain, but you’re not. You don’t justify to yourself that you’re in pain. This is senseless.Sam26

    I picked a dream because that was my mood, but I can also lay out a pleasant tale about how I know I was in pain when I stubbed my toe. Is it that we don't justify our claim of our present sense perception or that we don't ever justify our claims of sense perception? I am not talking about "I saw a ghost!" and someone points out that you saw a sheet (errors of interpretation), but what we do with past sense perceptions and whether we justify our beliefs about them to ourselves.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.1k
    Wittgenstein then claims, for the private language user, the only possible means by which fae can know that fae is using a word/sign in that private language correctly is to consult oneself and that's problematic for the simple reason that whatever seems/is thought to be correct will be taken as correct. The notion of correct usage becomes meaningless as the verificatory process is, at the end of the day, circular:TheMadFool

    Why do you say that the notion of correct usage becomes meaningless? As Sam26 says, the verification is not circular. The individual applies one's own criteria and makes the judgement of "correct". Isn't that how any judgement of "correct" is made, by an individual applying what is believed to be the relevant criteria? Where's the problem? What makes such a judgement meaningless?
  • Zugzwang
    131
    .
    Why the talk about 'justification' when this fact of being in pain can be discerned from behavior?Shawn

    That's just it. The meaning of the sign 'pain' (if we insist that there is such a thing) has to be 'out there' in the behavior that one would appeal to in order to justify a claim.

    Is what I call 'pain' the same as what you call 'pain'? Those who think 'pain' has an internal/private referent would like to (or even have to) say yes. Maybe they'd justify that hunch in terms of similar behavior. But doesn't it make more sense to see that 'pain' gets its 'meaning' (as a token of social currency) in the behavior that surrounds it? To put it another, it's conceivable that an artificially intelligent agent could employ the word successfully and pass the Turing test. The 'structure' of the 'meaning' of 'pain' is 'out here' in public.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    .
    For them self is not an entity, it is a constantly transforming interaction with world. They abandon the idea of outer and inner. The self is always outside of itself , coming back to itself from the world.Joshs

    Personally I find all this in implied/suggested by Wittgenstein. If meaning is outside, part of the world, then the 'internal monologue' is not longer either internal or a monologue in a strong sense.
  • Joshs
    2k
    Personally I find all this in implied/suggested by Wittgenstein. If meaning is outside, part of the world, then the 'internal monologue' is not longer either internal or a monologue in a strong sense.Zugzwang

    I find the resonances between Wittgenstein and phenomenology fascinating. I also find the differences important. For instance , Nietzsche’s influence
    cured Heidegger of the temptation toward a religious moralism. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Wittgenstein, and I think this moralism is implied in his work.
    It also seems to me that language games are vulnerable to Heidegger’s depiction of Das Man; this would be discourse as a flattened sharing rather than Heidegger’s account of authentic discourse as oriented toward one’s ownmost possibilities.
  • Shawn
    11.8k
    Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Wittgenstein, and I think this moralism is implied in his work.Joshs

    At least for the early Wittgenstein it was everything outside the domain of propositional analysis.

    I also do want to mention Searle in how he carries out the moral issue from the perspective of law and order in/of a society. Not just the individual and their conception of morality.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    Now you meet the same person again and by chance you are wearing the same thing. The person says, "You look good in that." You respond, "Ha. The last time you said that was in my dreams." The person responds, "Why do you think you were dreaming?" And you respond "I know I was dreaming."

    What work does "I know" do?
    Ennui Elucidator

    It's not as though we can't apply the word know in private after learning how to use it socially. The real question has to do with the meaning of "I know..." being associated with something internal, i.e., something private, including a private language. He's basing his knowledge on a memory, albeit a false memory. It seems as though the "I know..." is doing some work here, in that he believes he is justified based on what he remembers. We often do this, but in this case there is an appropriate doubt emerging, so the further question is, "How do you know?" Of course it will later be confirmed that he is not remembering correctly, so his justification is unfounded.

    Note that in OC Moore is saying he knows this is a hand without an appropriate doubt. In fact, the point that Wittgenstein makes, is, what would it mean to doubt in Moore's context? "I know..." in Moore's context is definitely not doing any work. It's empty, he saying no more than, "This is a hand." If we can appropriately say, "I know X," then we could certainly imagine how it is that we can fail to know, fail to be justified in our claim. Hence, the phrase, "I thought I knew," which by the way works in your dream example. So, again, I see the "I know..." in your example as appropriate. At least that's my take.

    I'm going to try to post something from the PI next.
  • Sam26
    1.8k
    Continuing with the PLA...

    "For how can I go so far as to try to use language to get between pain and its expression (PI 245)."

    I would be interested in what others think of this passage. What would be in between pain and the expression of pain? Is there something there that could be referenced? I would think not. I'm not sure what Wittgenstein is getting at. What is it that he's trying to get us to think about?

    In PI 246 Wittgenstein asks, "In what sense are my sensations private?--Well, only I can know whether I am really in pain [of course this is the mistaken idea that emerges from those who are making the mistake]; another person can only surmise it." Wittgenstein points out two problems with this statement. First, it's incorrect to think that others can only surmise (or guess) that I'm in pain. This is just wrong, people often correctly infer that another is in pain based on their outward expressions of pain, and it's objectively confirmed. As to the second mistake, "What is it supposed to mean--except perhaps that I am in pain?" It's not a matter of knowing. How could I doubt that I'm in pain? I just broke my nose, I'm having the pain, that's it, end of story. What am I supposed to justify here? Do I look inwardly, and say, oh ya, there it is, the pain, yep, I'm having it. Okay, now I know I'm in pain. Nonsense.
  • Zugzwang
    131
    Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Wittgenstein, and I think this moralism is implied in his work.Joshs

    I don't see it (or I choose to ignore it perhaps.)

    It also seems to me that language games are vulnerable to Heidegger’s depiction of Das ManJoshs

    Roughy it's as if 'form of life' = 'Das Man.' Being-in-the-world, being-with-others,... is being-in-language-in-the-world-with-others.

    this would be discourse as a flattened sharing rather than Heidegger’s account of authentic discourse as oriented toward one’s ownmost possibilities.Joshs

    To me this is (or can be read as) Heidegger's moralism, related to Kierkegaard's.

    A more neutral rendition might a spectrum that runs from the hackneyed to the offensive and the obscure. If the point is the rescue a heroic subculture of the single genius, then's there a little room for that. Surely an individual can stand out against background more than others...but not without being primarily 'made' of that background, sensible in terms of it.

    You gotta use words when you talk to me, words you didn't define (if you define your own new jargon, it's in terms of the one we were thrown into.)
  • Zugzwang
    131
    For how can I go so far as to try to use language to get between pain and its expression (PI 245)."

    I would be interested in what others think of this passage. What would be in between pain and the expression of pain? Is there something there that could be referenced? I would think not. I'm not sure what Wittgenstein is getting at. What is it that he's trying to get us to think about?
    Sam26

    Perhaps he means the difference between some postulated 'raw feel' and all the understood-as-signs for it. 'Logically' one cannot be wrong about how things 'seem' to one. I mean simply that we don't usually challenge such claims. Some philosophers extrapolate from this kind of thing that some private show is involved. Pain is understood as one of those 'mental' (infinitely intimate) entities that the experiencer cannot misperceive. But this unmistakable private something is also unnamable...except through public actions that get associated with the public token 'pain.' I don't know if my red is your red, but we both know that roses are red. In the same way pain goes with injuries and aspirin.
  • Joshs
    2k
    You gotta use words when you talk to me, words you didn't define (if you define your own new jargon, it's in terms of the one we were thrown into.)Zugzwang

    I don’t define my own words de novo, but they are not simply introjected from a culture either. There is no such thing as culture as a monolithic structure , at any level , even at the level of a language game with two participants. Each word that is ‘shared’ between us is a different sense of the word for you than it is for me. It must be in order for there to be an ‘us’. I am already an other to myself when I talk or think to myself. The words I ‘use’ to think to myself come back to me in the instant I use them as if they came from another. I am changed in using my own words. You are a further other to my other that is myself.
    Wittgenstein begins culture between you and me , but culture begins most primordially between me and myself, as I find myself always changed from moment to moment via temporality. The shifts in context ushered in by my temporally unfolding self-talk already move me through a multitude of language games , prior to my engagement with others.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    Why do you say that the notion of correct usage becomes meaningless? As Sam26 says, the verification is not circular. The individual applies one's own criteria and makes the judgement of "correct". Isn't that how any judgement of "correct" is made, by an individual applying what is believed to be the relevant criteria? Where's the problem? What makes such a judgement meaningless?Metaphysician Undercover

    A private language user, if fae's not sure if fae's using the sign, say, S, correctly has only one option: ask faerself about whether S is being used correctly or not but fae doesn't know that; isn't that why fae's asking faerself? It's like a judge in court who's unsure about a certain article of the law and then consults faerself about it; fae doesn't know, that's what being unsure means.
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