• Luke
    1.7k
    If I talk about my pains, can you know what I'm talking about? Of course you can. Then I am not using a private language, despite talking about my inner feelings. Therefore, the conditions for being a "private language" must be more than just a language about one's inner feelings. The second condition is that only the speaker can know what the words refer to.Metaphysician Undercover

    You have not described two conditions. You have described the same condition of privacy twice.

    If there actually were two conditions the second one would be 'the reference to sensations': that the words of the language refer to the speaker's immediate private sensations. And, as I have pointed out several times, Wittgenstein is using the word "sensation" here in the singular sense of one's "inner experiences — his feelings, moods, and so on".

    You have attempted to argue that the second condition of 'the reference to sensations' is irrelevant. If the condition of privacy is met, then you are right, because it won't matter what the words refer to, and so there is no need to meet the second condition of reference to sensations. However, this is not the private language that Wittgenstein describes. These two conditions are inseparable in Wittgenstein's description, and they are therefore not two separate conditions.

    "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations." (PI 243)

    If you could manage to read a whole sentence, you might have noticed that. But you wanted to talk about your own version of the private language argument instead, in which the words do not necessarily refer to one's sensations. Unfortunately for you, we are discussing Wittgenstein's private language argument, not yours.

    Describing S as a "sensation", "a word of our common language" (261), so that we can all know what "S" refers to, negates the possibility that the demonstration is intended as an example of a private language, as defined.Metaphysician Undercover

    How many times do you need to be told that he attempts to give the private language advocate what he wants but fails, because he is showing us the incoherency of the concept of a private language? THAT'S THE POINT. And yet you still complain that it isn't really a private language. Well, no shit.

    I don't think that's misplaced when directed toward you.Metaphysician Undercover

    You don't know enough to know any better.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    You have not described two conditions. You have described the same condition of privacy twice.Luke

    If the words of a language which talks about inner feelings could not be known to another, we could not coherently talk about our inner feelings. Therefore, what makes the private language incomprehensible to others must be something other than that it refers to inner feelings.

    These two conditions are inseparable in Wittgenstein's description, and they are therefore not two separate conditions.Luke

    You are neglecting the statement "So another person cannot understand the language."

    Obviously we understand another person's language when they talk about their private sensations. Talking about our private sensations, and understanding each other is a common part of natural language. Therefore, "so another person cannot understand the language", is a condition other than referring to one's immediate private sensations. The language has to refer to private feelings in a particular way so that others cannot understand.

    How many times do you need to be told that he attempts to give the private language advocate what he wants but fails, because he is showing us the incoherency of the concept of a private language? THAT'S THE POINT. And yet you still complain that it isn't really a private language. Well, no shit.Luke

    There is no attempt to give the private language advocate what he wants, that's nonsense. What is provided as an example at 258 is not even close to an example of a private language, as indicated from my quote of 257. It is an example of something completely different.

    That the concept of a private language is incoherent is self-evident. This requires no demonstration, it's obvious. Private language is an oxymoron. The demonstration is not meant to show that a private language is incoherent, it is meant to show that something very similar to private language, the integration of a private word into a common language, is a very real aspect of language, even though "private language" itself is incoherent.

    Here's a proposal. Let's look at the word "only" at 243. Let's assume that all the words of the proposed "private language" can only refer to private sensations, nothing else. Every word in this language can only refer to a private sensation, just like "S", and this might be the reason why the language cannot be understood by others. We can see why Wittgenstein would say that such a language would not be understandable to others, at 265, because he says justification requires reference to something independent. But the demonstration at 258 shows one private word, "S", in the context of common words, "recurrence" and "sensation", so it is clearly not an attempt to portray a private language.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    If the words of a language which talks about inner feelings could not be known to another, we could not coherently talk about our inner feelings. Therefore, what makes the private language incomprehensible to others must be something other than that it refers to inner feelings.Metaphysician Undercover

    Explaining it again does not change the fact that you described the same condition twice.

    You claimed that a private language had two conditions but you repeated the same condition of privacy twice. What's the other condition?

    These two conditions are inseparable in Wittgenstein's description, and they are therefore not two separate conditions.
    — Luke

    You are neglecting the statement "So another person cannot understand the language."
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I haven't neglected anything. I stated that the two separate conditions - privacy and the reference to sensations (assuming this was your second condition) - are actually inseparable. In contrast, you said that sensations are irrelevant.

    Obviously we understand another person's language when they talk about their private sensations. Talking about our private sensations, and understanding each other is a common part of natural language.Metaphysician Undercover

    A common part of a public language, yes.

    Therefore, "so another person cannot understand the language", is a condition other than referring to one's immediate private sensations.Metaphysician Undercover

    What's the other condition? Is it "referring to one's immediate private sensations"? You said earlier that sensations are irrelevant. On the other hand, I never said it was irrelevant that "another person cannot understand the language". Don't try and project your failed understanding on to me.

    The demonstration is not meant to show that a private language is incoherent, it is meant to show that something very similar to private language, the integration of a private word into a common language, is a very real aspect of language, even though "private language" itself is incoherent.Metaphysician Undercover

    This word salad is very comical. Does the demonstration succeed in its attempt to show that the integration of a private word into a common language is "a very real aspect of language"? What private word is being integrated into a common language at 258?

    Hint: 258 has nothing at all to do with integrating a private word into a common language. You are lost.

    Here's a proposal. Let's look at the word "only" at 243. Let's assume that all the words of the proposed "private language" can only refer to private sensations, nothing else. Every word in this language can only refer to a private sensation, just like "S", and this might be the reason why the language cannot be understood by others. We can see why Wittgenstein would say that such a language would not be understandable to others, at 265, because he says justification requires reference to something independent. But the demonstration at 258 shows one private word, "S", in the context of common words, "recurrence" and "sensation", so it is clearly not an attempt to portray a private language.Metaphysician Undercover

    You are aware that an attempt can fail, and that a failed attempt is still an attempt?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Explaining it again does not change the fact that you described the same condition twice.

    You claimed that a private language had two conditions but you repeated the same condition of privacy twice. What's the other condition?
    Luke

    I can't believe how you stubbornly resist understanding something so simple. Words can refer to internal things or external things. That the proposed private language uses words to refer to internal things is one condition. Also, a word might be understood by someone else, or it might not. That the words of the private language cannot be understood by another, is a second condition.

    That these two conditions are not the same condition, as you seem to think, for some strange reason, is evident from the following. A person can talk about internal things in words which others can understand. And, a person can talk about external things with words that someone else cannot understand. Therefore the two conditions are not the same condition, nor are they equivalent.

    It's very clear that the necessary relationship between the one and the other, required to say that they are the same, is simply not there. It is simply not the case that "referring to internal feelings" is equivalent with "not understandable by others". What makes a word understandable to someone else, rather than not understandable, is not that it refers to something external rather than internal. Understandability depends on the mode of learning which the person has undergone, not whether the thing referred to is internal or external.

    For example, physicists give names to external things which I cannot understand. Obviously, it is not because these things are supposed to be internal and private, that I do not understand these names, it is because I do not understand the conceptual structure which provides the context where the names have their positions. That is what makes a name understandable or not, to another person, whether the person understands the context. And the case is exactly the same with names of internal things. That the name "S" refers to something internal does not make it fundamentally impossible to another person to understand. You argued this incessantly already, that we can understand "S" through the understanding of "sensation". However, Wittgenstein makes it appear like we cannot understand what "S" refers to, through the use of ambiguity.

    That the use of ambiguity makes it impossible to understand what a word refers to, while internal/external is completely irrelevant, is irrefutable evidence that the two conditions are separate conditions.

    I haven't neglected anything. I stated that the two separate conditions - privacy and the reference to sensations (assuming this was your second condition) - are actually inseparable. In contrast, you said that sensations are irrelevant.Luke

    The separate condition I'm referring to is "another person cannot understand the language". That's why I said you are completely neglecting this phrase. And, in insisting that the second condition is "privacy", rather than "another person cannot understand the language", you continue to neglect that condition. What's with that? You quoted my statement as "another person cannot understand the language", and you referred to it as "privacy"

    That a person owns something as "private" does not necessitate that others cannot have access to it. The person can allow another access to one's private property, or another might take it with the use of force. So, stating the second condition as "privacy" is a straw man misrepresentation. "Private" is not the same as "another person cannot use it".

    A person may intentionally allow, what is held as private (the use of S in this example), to be shared by others. That the person shares it does not negate the fact that the thing shared remains that person's private property. And, of course this is why the example is not an example of a "private language", as defined by "another person cannot understand the language". It is allowed that the person with the private naming ("S"), shares the use of the name, through the means of the common understanding of "sensation". Therefore the condition "another person cannot understand the language" is violated, despite the fact that the naming itself is something private.

    Do you understand this? The naming is something "private", it is a private language-game. But it is described as occurring within the context of a public language. This private language-game, expressed at 258, is not "a language", and therefore not "a private language". The private language-game is not "a language", because a language consists of many different language-games, and the private language-game is just one language-game. This is an example of the difference between one and many, explored by Plato in "The Parmenides"

    What private word is being integrated into a common language at 258?Luke

    Luke, the private word is "S". The word of the common language is "sensation". The private word "S" is made public (integrated into common language) through the proposition "S is the sign of a sensation". However, this proposition ought to be justified, and that's where we find a problem. How do we confirm that the thing referred to with "S" conforms to the grammar of "sensation"?

    Hint: 258 has nothing at all to do with integrating a private word into a common language. You are lost.Luke

    Your proposed "hint" is obviously misunderstanding misrepresenting itself as guidance. That's a very good example of what fuels my attitude of condescension, and why it is "not misplaced when directed towards you", despite your implication that you know what I know.

    You still refuse to acknowledge the last line of 257 despite the fact that I've quoted it a number of times now. I'm going to keep repeating it, over and over, until you accept that it is relevant to the example expressed at 258:

    And when we speak of someone's having given a name to pain, what is presupposed is the existence of the grammar of the word "pain"; it shews the post where the new word is stationed. — PI 257
  • Luke
    1.7k
    That the proposed private language uses words to refer to internal things is one condition.Metaphysician Undercover

    At least you finally recognise the relevance of sensations at 243.

    That these two conditions are not the same condition, as you seem to think, for some strange reason, is evident from the following. A person can talk about internal things in words which others can understand. And, a person can talk about external things with words that someone else cannot understand. Therefore the two conditions are not the same condition, nor are they equivalent.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't know how many times you need to read 243 until it sinks in. Don't think, but look:

    The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243

    Wittgenstein does not mention internal/external or what "a person can talk about". He mentions "what only the speaker can know". The words of the private language refer to what only the speaker can know; that is, to his immediate private sensations. "External things" are not things that only the speaker can know. One's sensations are private and the words of this language are supposed to refer only to these private sensations. Another person cannot understand the language because it refers to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations.

    The separate condition I'm referring to is "another person cannot understand the language". That's why I said you are completely neglecting this phrase.Metaphysician Undercover

    How have I neglected this phrase? I haven't neglected anything. To say that your two conditions are inseparable is not to neglect either one of them. Let's not forget it was you who could not see the relevance of sensations.

    That a person owns something as "private" does not necessitate that others cannot have access to it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Nobody can access your immediate private sensations. Even if you wanted to, you cannot show them to anyone. And we are not necessarily talking about private property, only private.

    It is allowed that the person with the private naming ("S"), shares the use of the name, through the means of the common understanding of "sensation". Therefore the condition "another person cannot understand the language" is violated, despite the fact that the naming itself is something private.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't know how many times I need to repeat that the attempt to give an example of a private language fails, and Wittgenstein show us this to demonstrate that the idea is incoherent.

    Do you understand this? The naming is something "private", it is a private language-game.Metaphysician Undercover

    Wrong again:

    Naming is not yet a move in a language-game — any more than putting a piece in its place on the board is a move in chess. One may say: with the mere naming of a thing, nothing has yet been done. Nor has it a name except in a game. — PI 49

    Do you understand misplaced condescension?

    Luke, the private word is "S". The word of the common language is "sensation". The private word "S" is made public (integrated into common language) through the proposition "S is the sign of a sensation".Metaphysician Undercover

    What do you mean it's "made public"? "S" never had a private use before.

    You still refuse to acknowledge the last line of 257Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not going to get into other sections of the book when you have so much difficulty with just one or two.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Wittgenstein does not mention internal/external or what "a person can talk about". He mentions "what only the speaker can know".Luke

    You're just being tedious Luke. He does mention "inner".

    "256. Now, what about the language which describes my inner experiences and which only I myself can understand?"

    Notice that he says my inner experiences "and" which only I can understand. There are two described features here, " describes my inner experiences", and, "only I myself can understand".

    Why do you refuse to recognize that a person might describe one's private sensations in words that another can understand? And so, "describing one's private sensations", and "describing one's private sensations in words which another person cannot understand", are two distinct things.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    Wittgenstein does not mention internal/external or what "a person can talk about". He mentions "what only the speaker can know".
    — Luke

    You're just being tedious Luke. He does mention "inner".

    "256. Now, what about the language which describes my inner experiences and which only I myself can understand?"
    Metaphysician Undercover

    We were discussing 243, not 256. Remember? You said:

    I don't see how the mention of "sensations" at 243 is relevant.Metaphysician Undercover

    I pointed out to you how very relevant the mention of "sensations" is, then you tried to distract from your egregious oversight by claiming to be "pointing out the insufficiency" with your two conditions - neither of which I had ignored, and one of which was that the words of the private language "refer to internal things" - the very thing you initially found irrelevant. Now you are trying to distract further by introducing 256.

    Why do you refuse to recognize that a person might describe one's private sensations in words that another can understand? And so, "describing one's private sensations", and "describing one's private sensations in words which another person cannot understand", are two distinct things.Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein does not talk about "describing one's private sensations in words which another person can understand" at 243. If another person could understand the language, then the language could not "refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations."

    To repeat: Another person cannot understand the language because it refers to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations.

    The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    We were discussing 243, not 256. Remember? You said:Luke

    Luke you're being ridiculous, the quote from 256 is a reference to what was meant at 243. Do you think that 256 is referencing a different type of private language from the one mentioned at 243? If so then we have intentional ambiguity. Clearly 256 indicates that referring to one's private sensations, and "only I can understand" are two distinct things. The issue is to determine whether there is a relationship of logical necessity between these two, as proposed at 243. Does "referring to private sensations" necessitate "only I can understand".

    Wittgenstein does not talk about "describing one's private sensations in words which another person can understand" at 243. If another person could understand the language, then the language could not "refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations."Luke

    Of course not, that's already given, It's a known fact that we can talk about private sensations in words that people can understand. That's the reason for the second condition of the private language. 1. It refers to private sensations. 2. it uses words which no one else can understand. The second condition is necessary to distinguish the private language from a common or public language which refers to private sensations. This would be using words like "pain".

    To repeat: Another person cannot understand the language because it refers to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations.Luke

    You are begging the question Luke. The question at 243 is "can we imagine" such a language. Is such a proposal a logical possibility. Would having a language which refers only to one's private sensations cause that language to be only understandable to that person. At 265 you'll see that the answer implied is "yes". Justification requires reference to something independent, so if the language referred only to one's private sensations, it would be incomprehensible to others.

    You need to respect exactly what he is asking at 243, "can we imagine" such a language. He is not asking you to imagine such a language. The answer he reveals is that though we can imagine such a language ( justification requires something independent, 265), as it is fully logical, such a language is not a real description of language. In reality, having the words refer to one's private sensations does not necessitate, or cause, the words to be incomprehensible to others because we have independent sources of justification. Therefore we can imagine such a language one which reference only private sensations making it impossible that another person cannot understand the words, but this is not a real language, in the sense of how languages actually exist.

    You seem to have jumped the gun, and actually proceeded toward attempting to imagine such a language, prior to determining whether it is logically possible to imagine such a language. So you beg the question, assuming that such a language is logically possible. If you didn't already assume that this language was logically possible, you would not proceed toward imagining it.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    1. It refers to private sensations. 2. it uses words which no one else can understand. The second condition is necessary to distinguish the private language from a common or public language which refers to private sensations.Metaphysician Undercover

    The "first condition" is not only that it "refers to private sensations". The "condition" - if you must call it that - is that "the words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know", which is the speaker's immediate private sensations.

    You are begging the question Luke. The question at 243 is "can we imagine" such a language. Is such a proposal a logical possibility.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm not begging the question; I'm explaining to you what Wittgenstein means by a private language, because you said that you couldn't see how sensations were relevant to it:

    I don't see how the mention of "sensations" at 243 is relevant. The words of this proposed "private language" cannot be understood by another person.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is clear evidence that you do not understand Wittgenstein. And yet, despite this resounding misread, you admit no fault and continue to act as though your reading was correct all along.

    Would having a language which refers only to one's private sensations cause that language to be only understandable to that person.Metaphysician Undercover

    According to the concept of a private language that Wittgenstein describes at 243, a language that refers to what only the speaker can know is a language that is understandable only to the speaker.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k

    You haven't been addressing anything I say, only tediously repeating that nonsense, so it appears there's no discussion here.
  • TheMadFool
    13.7k
    That a private language is impossible (incoherent) means that some areas of our experience are not language-apt i.e. we can't talk about them neither to others nor to ourselves.

    Let's take a familiar example - pain. As far as I can tell, we can talk about what pain is (public because there are observable physical correlates) but we can't seem to have a conversation on what pain is like (exclusively private).
  • Luke
    1.7k
    You haven't been addressing anything I say,Metaphysician Undercover

    It has been addressed.

    Clearly 256 indicates that referring to one's private sensations, and "only I can understand" are two distinct things. The issue is to determine whether there is a relationship of logical necessity between these two, as proposed at 243. Does "referring to private sensations" necessitate "only I can understand".Metaphysician Undercover

    These "two distinct things" are both described and/or entailed by: "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know" (PI 243). Therefore, one "distinct thing" does not necessitate the other; instead, both "distinct things" are necessitated by "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know".

    You have a lot of trouble accepting all of 243. You first ignored that the words of the private language refer to the speaker's immediate private sensations. Now you are ignoring that the words of the private language refer to what only the speaker can know.

    The question at 243 is "can we imagine" such a language.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's a different question from what Wittgenstein means by a private language, which is the question we were previously discussing. You initially thought that it did not matter what the words of the language referred to and all that mattered was "only I can understand". You have now tried to change the subject.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    These "two distinct things" are both described and/or entailed by: "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know" (PI 243). Therefore, one "distinct thing" does not necessitate the other; instead, both "distinct things" are necessitated by "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know".

    You have a lot of trouble accepting all of 243. You first ignored that the words of the private language refer to the speaker's immediate private sensations. Now you are ignoring that the words of the private language refer to what only the speaker can know.
    Luke

    You Luke, are the one not accepting "all of 243". You don't seem to recognize that 243 is asking a question, and that the question contains two parts. 1( Can we imagine a language in which a person gives expressions to one's inner experiences, and ,2) That another person cannot understand the words of this language.

    That these are two distinct parts is clear from the fact that Wittgenstein answers 1) with "Well, can't we do so in our ordinary language?". Then he proceeds to the second condition "the individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking".

    Obviously, these are two distinct conditions. And, as I explained to you already, this phrase "The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know", does not necessitate that the language refers to inner experiences, as you claim. One might make a language referring to external things, in which no one understands what the words refer to.

    That's a different question from what Wittgenstein means by a private language, which is the question we were previously discussing. You initially thought that it did not matter what the words of the language referred to and all that mattered was "only I can understand". You have now tried to change the subject.Luke

    Since, I've always been arguing that there are two distinct conditions of the private language described at 243, this is obviously a strawman representation. I "changed the subject" to adopt a new approach, because I was not getting through to you the other way. The new approach was to show that you ignore the essence of Wittgenstein's question, 'could we imagine such a language', with your claim that you have already imagined it. Therefore you are begging the question, claiming to have the answer to Wittgenstein's question, prior to going through the logical process required to answer the question.

    The point being that we need to determine whether there is logical consistency between 1) and 2), before we can answer whether such a language can be imagined. If you simply assume that 1) and 2) are united in a logically coherent way, as you do, you beg the question, claiming to have already imagined such a language.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    One might make a language referring to external things, in which no one understands what the words refer to.Metaphysician Undercover

    That wouldn’t work. The words of such a language would not refer to “what only the speaker can know.” Other people can know external things. Other people cannot know one’s immediate private sensations.

    That these are two distinct parts is clear from the fact that Wittgenstein answers 1) with "Well, can't we do so in our ordinary language?". Then he proceeds to the second condition "the individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking".Metaphysician Undercover

    Obviously, we can and do talk about pain and other sensations using our public language. What Wittgenstein proceeds to show is that our public talk and its grammar are based on external behaviours, not on immediate private sensations. Hence, Wittgenstein’s beetle, where “the [sensation] object drops out of consideration as irrelevant”. See also PI 307. He introduces the private language only to reveal it as a common philosophical misconception about how language actually works.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    That wouldn’t work. The words of such a language would not refer to “what only the speaker can know.” Other people can know external things. Other people cannot know one’s immediate private sensations.Luke

    You're misreading again Luke. The phrase "refer to what can only be known to the person speaking" ;means only the person speaking can know what the words refer to. He is talking about knowing what the words refer to, not knowing the things themselves. Whatever knowing the thing itself would mean, I don't know, but it's clearly not what is indicated by the context, talking about language. This is clarified by the sentence which follows. "So another person cannot understand the language". Knowing the thing itself (whatever that is supposed to mean) is not necessary for understanding a language, knowing what the words refer to is.

    One can make up a language with words that refer to external things, so that other people do not know what the words refer to, and therefore cannot understand the language.

    Obviously, we can and do talk about pain and other sensations using our public language.Luke

    So, do you apprehend the two distinct conditions now? 1) the language talks about inner experiences (which we might do with our public language), and 2) another person cannot understand the language (which also could be the case with a language that refers to things other than inner experiences).

    What Wittgenstein is investigating is the logical relationship between these two, whether a language which uses words only to refer to "immediate private sensations", would necessarily be a language which no one else could understand.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    You're misreading again Luke. The phrase "refer to what can only be known to the person speaking" ;means only the person speaking can know what the words refer to.Metaphysician Undercover

    Your accusation that I’m misreading is supported by a fictional quote. He does not say “refer to what can only be known to the person speaking”. Get the quote right before you accuse me of misreading, otherwise you might be accused of misreading.

    He is talking about knowing what the words refer to, not knowing the things themselves.Metaphysician Undercover

    No, he is talking about “what only the speaker can know.” An actual quote carries a lot more weight than your constant misinterpretation and made up quotes.

    One can make up a language with words that refer to external things, so that other people do not know what the words refer to, and therefore cannot understand the language.Metaphysician Undercover

    It’s not about what other people do or do not know, but about what only the speaker can know. Re-read 243.

    So, do you apprehend the two distinct conditions now? 1) the language talks about inner experiences (which we might do with our public language), and 2) another person cannot understand the language (which also could be the case with a language that refers to things other than inner experiences).Metaphysician Undercover

    No, and I’ve given you my argument. Your only counterargument is that a person could have a private language which refers to external things. That is not a valid response because Wittgenstein tells us that the language refers to “what only the speaker can know”, which implies that it refers to what other people cannot know. External things are not something that other people cannot know. He also says that “another person cannot understand the language”, not merely that they do not understand it.


    EDIT: I note that the third edition has 243 as:

    The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243 (3rd edition)

    This is slightly different in the fourth edition that I am using, which has it as:

    The words of this language are to refer to what only the speaker can know — to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243 (4th edition)

    Nonetheless, the point remains that he is talking about what only the speaker can know (and, therefore, what other people cannot know); he is not talking about what the speaker does know or what other people do not know. The point is that this language is private in principle; it cannot possibly come to be understood by others and it has no possibility of translation into another language.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Your accusation that I’m misreading is supported by a fictional quote. He does not say “refer to what can only be known to the person speaking”. Get the quote right before you accuse me of misreading, otherwise you might be accused of misreading.Luke

    Those are the exact words of the translation I am using. The complete passage is: "The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language." The key sentence is the last one, "So another person cannot understand the language". This provides the context which indicates that he is talking about knowing what the words refer to, not knowing the things themselves (whatever that might mean).

    No, he is talking about “what only the speaker can know.” An actual quote carries a lot more weight than your constant misinterpretation and made up quotes.Luke

    Right, and "what only the speaker can know" is in the context of the language proposal, and what the words of the language refer to. So he is saying that only the speaker can know what the words refer to, so "another person cannot understand the language".

    That is not a valid response because Wittgenstein tells us that the language refers to “what only the speaker can know”, which implies that it refers to what other people cannot know.Luke

    You have removed the phrase from it's context, to give it your own private meaning. This I've noticed is your habitual way of arguing. It is a type of strawman procedure. Here you are strawmanning what Wittgenstein has written, by removing the phrase from the context which he provided, for the sake of supporting your misunderstanding of what he wrote.

    In the context he is talking about what the words refer to, and he is saying that only the speaker can know this, such that only the speaker can understand the language. It is proposed that this (only the speaker can know what the words refer to) is the result of the words referring to inner experiences. However, it is demonstrated at 258-270, that this is not the case, others can know what the words refer to when they refer to inner experiences. So long as there is something independent to act as justification, having a word which refers to one's inner sensation does not render the word incomprehensible to another, when there is something independent to justify the use.

    Furthermore, Wittgenstein suggests at 269, that the phrase you quote, "what only the speaker can know", is itself incoherent, because knowledge requires justification, and one cannot justify ones own use of words. This is only a case of the person "thinking he understands", which does not qualify as actual knowing, or understanding. "And sounds which no one else understands but which I
    'appear to understand' might be called a 'private language'.

    Nonetheless, the point remains that he is talking about what only the speaker can know (and, therefore, what other people cannot know); he is not talking about what the speaker does know or what other people do not know. The point is that this language is private in principle; it cannot possibly come to be understood by others and it has no possibility of translation into another language.Luke

    Sure, but you are still neglecting the context. He is asking at 243, a question, could we imagine such a language. This means that he is asking whether we can conceive of it, is it logically possible. He shows with the demonstration 258-270, that if all the words of the private language refer only to inner experiences, with no words referring to anything independent to act as justification, this language could not be understood by anyone else. However, the person using the private language could not be said to "know" or "understand" one's own private language, the person would only "appear" as if the language was understood.

    But we need to acknowledge that this conclusion is due to the way that Wittgenstein restricts "know" and "understand" to rule (criteria) following activities, and claims that a person cannot privately follow a rule. Thinking that one is following a rule does not qualify as actually following a rule, therefore thinking that one knows does not qualify as actually knowing. But the fact that one can choose not to obey one's own 'private rule', and choose to act either according to one's 'private rule', or not, implies that if this cannot be called acting by a "rule" , we must still allow that it is something similar to a "rule". And since Wittgenstein offers no alternative to "rule", for describing why a person would appear to act as if one is following a rule, when the person is really doing something other than following a rule, the "private language" demonstration is really useless.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    The key sentence is the last one, "So another person cannot understand the language".Metaphysician Undercover

    The word "So" indicates that another person cannot understand the language because, or as a consequence, of the preceding sentence, which states that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations."

    1. Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?
    2. Furthermore, do you acknowledge that another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?

    So he is saying that only the speaker can know what the words refer toMetaphysician Undercover

    That's not what Wittgenstein says. You have it backwards. He says that the words refer to what only the speaker can know, or "to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations."

    That is not a valid response because Wittgenstein tells us that the language refers to “what only the speaker can know”, which implies that it refers to what other people cannot know.
    — Luke

    You have removed the phrase from it's context, to give it your own private meaning.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I haven't removed the phrase from its context. That's a non-argument. If you think that "what only the speaker can know" does not imply or is not equivalent to "what other people cannot know", then explain why not.

    In the context he is talking about what the words refer to, and he is saying that only the speaker can know this, such that only the speaker can understand the language.Metaphysician Undercover

    You are trying to twist it to read as "only the speaker can know what the words refer to". What Wittgenstein actually says is that "the words refer to what only the speaker can know." Furthermore, he indicates quite clearly - in the same sentence - that what the words refer to, and what only the speaker can know, are the speaker's immediate private sensations.

    However, it is demonstrated at 258-270, that this is not the case, others can know what the words refer to when they refer to inner experiences.Metaphysician Undercover

    That may well be, but we are still in the process of clarifying what Wittgenstein means by a private language. You initially said that you could not see the relevance of sensations, but you seem to have since changed your view on this. You are now still arguing that Wittgenstein's private language has two conditions: referring to one's immediate private sensations and that another person cannot understand the language. So I ask again:

    1. Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?
    2. Furthermore, do you acknowledge that another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?

    I don't think we should rush to discuss other sections until we have clarity on what Wittgenstein means by a private language.

    Sure, but you are still neglecting the context. He is asking at 243, a question, could we imagine such a language.Metaphysician Undercover

    Sure, but you are neglecting that you said you could not see the relevance of sensations in relation to Wittgenstein's private language, so let's get clear about that first.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    The word "So" indicates that another person cannot understand the language because, or as a consequence, of the preceding sentence, which states that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations."Luke

    Right, that is what he is asking, if we can imagine such a language. Is it logically possible that a language which refers to inner sensations would make it so that the language could no be understood by others. And as I said a few days ago, the answer is yes, if all the words of the language referred only to inner sensations, because justification requires something independent. However, as I said yesterday, even the person using this language could not be said to know or understand the language (269). But this conclusion is due to Wittgenstein's definition of knowing and rule-following, which is not really consistent with common usage.

    1. Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?Luke

    You are continuing to separate this phrase "what can only be known to the person speaking" from its context. It makes no sense to say that a person's private sensations can only be "known" to oneself. I can't even imagine what this could mean, to know one's own sensations. And it's clearly demonstrated at 258, that such a thing is impossible. There is no criterion of identity, no justification, and no such thing as "right". From the context, at 243, it appears very clear to me, that what Wittgenstein is talking about "knowing", is what the words of the private language refer to. He is not talking about knowing the private sensations themselves, whatever that might mean.

    We might say that the passage at 243 appears ambiguous, if we were reading the book in order and hadn't gotten to 258 yet. But then, at 258 it is made very clear that what he is talking about is knowing what the words refer to, the particular thing referred to with "S", "the sensation" which gets named this way. What else could "know that sensation" mean, other than to be able to identify what "S" refers to? Now it ought to be clear to you that "what can only be known to the person speaking" is how to identify the thing called "S", so as to apply the name correctly. Therefore, 'I know that sensation', means I know how to identify it and properly apply the name. So, the ambiguity is resolved, "known" in the context of "only be known to the person speaking" means being capable of identifying, and applying the name, which is the same thing as knowing what the words refer to.

    2. Furthermore, do you acknowledge that another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?Luke

    Yes, but this is the question he is asking. Can we imagine such a thing, is it logically consistent, that if only the person creating the language can know what the words refer to, does this necessitate (your use of "because" above) that the language cannot be understood by another? The answer is yes, but there are repercussions, the person speaking the language cannot even understand one's own private language. (But that is the consequence of another premise, Wittgenstein's restricted sense of "rule following", and "knowing" being dependent on justification and therefore rule-following.

    So in reality Wittgenstein demonstrates the fault to be in the very first premise, 'the words of the private language refer to what can only be known to the person speaking'. This is incoherent, because "knowing" requires justification, which is a judgement of rule-following, implying more than one person, making "knowledge" necessarily something shared.

    This is probably why the first premise was expressed a little bit ambiguously, to disguise the fact that his use of "known" is already logically inconsistent with the principles of rule-following which he has already laid down, and therefore incoherent.

    I haven't removed the phrase from its context. That's a non-argument. If you think that "what only the speaker can know" does not imply or is not equivalent to "what other people cannot know", then explain why not.Luke

    The incoherency is clear in your question here. "Knowledge" for Wittgenstein is necessarily something public. That's the way he defines his terms, "rule-following", "criterion" "justification", etc.. Therefore, "what only the speaker can know", is in itself incoherent. There is no such thing as something known to only one person. The speaker can believe oneself to know something privately, and even act as if something is known privately, but as my quote from 269 demonstrates, for Wittgenstein this is just the appearance of knowing, it is not really knowing, just like thinking that oneself is following a rule, is not really following a rule.

    I don't think we should rush to discuss other sections until we have clarity on what Wittgenstein means by a private language.Luke

    I know that you think this way Luke, your private mode of understanding is to remove passages from their contexts, to ensure an interpretation which is consistent with your preconceived ideas. You have to look at what Wittgenstein says about rule-following and justification to understand what he means by "know".

    Sure, but you are neglecting that you said you could not see the relevance of sensations in relation to Wittgenstein's private language, so let's get clear about that first.Luke

    "Out of context strawman." This phrase must mean something to you by now. What I said is that whether the words refer to inner sensations, or external things, is irrelevant to the meaning of 'only the person speaking can know what the words refer to'.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    1. Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?
    — Luke

    You are continuing to separate this phrase "what can only be known to the person speaking" from its context. It makes no sense to say that a person's private sensations can only be "known" to oneself. I can't even imagine what this could mean, to know one's own sensations. And it's clearly demonstrated at 258, that such a thing is impossible.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    The 3rd edition of 243 states:

    The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations.

    My question was:

    Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?

    I'm not "separating" it from its context. Take it up with Wittgenstein if you can't imagine what it would mean, because that's what he says at 243. I want to know how you are reading 243 and what you think Wittgenstein means by a private language. That's why I asked you the question. But you just deflect and evade.

    And it's clearly demonstrated at 258, that such a thing is impossible. There is no criterion of identity, no justification, and no such thing as "right".Metaphysician Undercover

    I want to know what you think Wittgenstein means by a private language as he describes it at 243, which is why I asked you the question. Whether or not this private language is possible or impossible is another matter. Let's get clear on what a private language is, first.

    From the context, at 243, it appears very clear to me, that what Wittgenstein is talking about "knowing", is what the words of the private language refer to. He is not talking about knowing the private sensations themselves, whatever that might mean.Metaphysician Undercover

    What evidence do you have for this reading? This does not appear to be supported by the text at 243.

    We might say that the passage at 243 appears ambiguous, if we were reading the book in order and hadn't gotten to 258 yet.Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein describes what he means by a private language at 243. How is it ambiguous?

    But then, at 258 it is made very clear that what he is talking about is knowing what the words refer to, the particular thing referred to with "S", "the sensation" which gets named this way. What else could "know that sensation" mean, other than to be able to identify what "S" refers to?Metaphysician Undercover

    Let's get clear on what he means at 243 before changing the subject to what he means at 258.

    2. Furthermore, do you acknowledge that another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?
    — Luke

    Yes, but this is the question he is asking.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You do acknowledge that another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations? Then you must also acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. Right?

    And if you acknowledge both of these things, then you must acknowledge that there are not two separate conditions of Wittgenstein's private language, but that it refers to one's immediate private sensations and that another person cannot understand it (both) because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking.

    Can we imagine such a thing, is it logically consistent, that if only the person creating the language can know what the words refer to, does this necessitate (your use of "because" above) that the language cannot be understood by another? The answer is yes, but there are repercussions, the person speaking the language cannot even understand one's own private language. (But that is the consequence of another premise, Wittgenstein's restricted sense of "rule following", and "knowing" being dependent on justification and therefore rule-following.Metaphysician Undercover

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's first settle what Wittgenstein means by a private language.

    I haven't removed the phrase from its context. That's a non-argument. If you think that "what only the speaker can know" does not imply or is not equivalent to "what other people cannot know", then explain why not.
    — Luke

    The incoherency is clear in your question here. "Knowledge" for Wittgenstein is necessarily something public.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein says (in the 4th edition) "what only the speaker can know". Wittgenstein says in the 3rd edition "what can only be known to the person speaking". There is no incoherency in my question. I asked you how Wittgenstein's use of these phrases does not imply or is not equivalent to "what other people cannot know". I am talking about Wittgenstein's own description of a private language at 243. You are evading the question and trying to change the subject.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Do you acknowledge that Wittgenstein's private language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations?Luke

    Yes I agree, but "known" is being used as indicated by258, as I explained. To know the sensation called S is to to be able to identify it and correctly apply the symbol. For instance, 'I know I have a toothache' means that I can correctly identify my sensation as a "toothache". So the phrase "the individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking" can be interpreted as meaning only the person speaking can identify the things being referred to by the words. "Know" means to be able to identify.

    Wittgenstein describes what he means by a private language at 243. How is it ambiguous?Luke

    I interpret 'known' such that "to know" one's own sensations means 'to be able to correctly identify them, therefore to know what the words of the private language refer to. You seem to interpret "to know" in some other way which you have yet to explain. Unless we can agree as to what "known" means here we must concede that it is ambiguous.

    And if you acknowledge both of these things, then you must acknowledge that there are not two separate conditions of Wittgenstein's private language, but that it refers to one's immediate private sensations and that another person cannot understand it (both) because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking.Luke

    How do you draw that conclusion? I think you can only draw that conclusion by omitting the fact that he is asking a question. 'Can we imagine such a language?' This question indicates that we are being asked to assess the validity of your use of "because". You say "another person cannot understand Wittgenstein's private language 'because' it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations". The "because" separates two distinct things which are implied to be causally related with the use of "because". When Wittgenstein asks 'could we imagine this' he is asking whether we can validate this supposed causal relation as logically necessary. That's what you are ignoring.

    You appear to ignore the question, and assume that the necessary relation is dictated, or stipulated. Let's assume the following:
    X=the words refer to what is known only to the person speaking, to his immediate private sensations.
    Y=another person cannot understand the language.
    Your use of "because" indicates that you interpret this proposition as a conditional statement If X then Y, Y is the necessary conclusion from X. I agree that this proposed "private language" can be interpreted as such a conditional proposition. However, you seem to take this proposition as a premise, from which to proceed, without recognizing that Wittgenstein has asked, could we imagine such a thing. So instead of stating as a premise, 'if X then Y', he is asking us to separate the hypothesis "X", from the conclusion "Y", to examine the validity of the proposed conditional statement. That's what he means by 'could we imagine such a language?'. He is asking, is it logically coherent.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    I think you can only draw that conclusion by omitting the fact that he is asking a question. 'Can we imagine such a language?'Metaphysician Undercover

    What language? We need to know what sort of language it is before we can answer the question of whether we can imagine such a language. Wittgenstein tells us what sort of language it is at 243:

    The individual words of this language are to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations. So another person cannot understand the language. — PI 243

    The first sentence can be read as:

    The individual words of this language are to refer:
    (i) to what can only be known to the person speaking; (that is:)
    (ii) to his immediate private sensations.

    The second sentence can be seen as a consequence of the first: The language refers to what can only be known to the speaker; to his private sensations. So [consequently] another person cannot understand the language.

    You have been arguing against this reading for the last several pages. What's your reading?

    I agree that this proposed "private language" can be interpreted as such a conditional proposition.Metaphysician Undercover

    So you now agree?

    However, you seem to take this proposition as a premise, from which to proceed, without recognizing that Wittgenstein has asked, could we imagine such a thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    You said above that you agree that the private language can be interpreted as the conditional proposition.

    You need to know what he means by a private language - what sort of language he is talking about - before you can proceed to question whether such a language can be imagined or whether it is a coherent concept. The private language is described by the conditional proposition; by the quote above of 243. Otherwise, what is the private language?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    What language? We need to know what sort of language it is before we can answer the question of whether we can imagine such a language. Wittgenstein tells us what sort of language it is at 243:Luke

    Yes, the question Wittgenstein asks at 243, is can we imagine a language such as the one described . Do you see this question at 243? Wittgenstein is asking us, can we imagine a language such as the one described, meaning is such a language logically possible.

    The second sentence can be seen as a consequence of the first: The language refers to what can only be known to the speaker; to his private sensations. So [consequently] another person cannot understand the language.Luke

    Right, so the question. Can we imagine a language which has words that refer to a person's private sensations, and this produces the consequence that every other person cannot understand the language? Remember, with a common language a person uses words to refer to one's private sensations, but this does not produce the consequence that other people cannot understand it.

    It is common in language that people use words to refer to their private sensations, and
    this does not lead to the consequence that others cannot understand. But Wittgenstein is asking can we imagine a situation where this will lead to the consequence that others cannot understand.

    Do you agree, that this is the question being asked at 243. Is it possible that a language which refers to one's private sensations could produce the consequence that no one else could understand? In common language a person refers to one's private sensations, but it does not produce this consequence.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    The second sentence can be seen as a consequence of the first: The language refers to what can only be known to the speaker; to his private sensations. So [consequently] another person cannot understand the language.
    — Luke

    Right, so the question. Can we imagine a language which has words that refer to a person's private sensations, and this produces the consequence that every other person cannot understand the language? Remember, with a common language a person uses words to refer to one's private sensations, but this does not produce the consequence that other people cannot understand it.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    The premise is not only that the language refers to one's private sensations. The premise is that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations". You continue to overlook that the language refers to what can only be known to the person speaking. Remember, with a common language a person does not use words to refer to what can only be known to them.

    Furthermore, you stated that you accepted the conditional proposition that another person cannot understand the language because it refers to what can only be known to the person speaking.

    It is common in language that people use words to refer to their private sensations, and this does not lead to the consequence that others cannot understand. But Wittgenstein is asking can we imagine a situation where this will lead to the consequence that others cannot understand.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's not what he's asking because the premise is not only that the language refers to one's private sensations. The premise is that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations".
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    The premise is not only that the language refers to one's private sensations. The premise is that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations".Luke

    This premise is the one shown to be incoherent, at 258. Remember, there is no "right" here, so a person using a private symbol cannot be said to "know" the thing referred to with the symbol. It is impossible that only the person speaking can know one's own sensations. This is due to the way that Wittgenstein describes understanding and knowing, as requiring justification and rule-follow, which is something requiring the judgement of another person. And this is why Wittgenstein's "private language" is logically incoherent.

    Read 269, and the relationship between what he calls "subjective understanding", and the private language. The person using the private language cannot be said to "know" his immediate private sensations, he only appears to, as it is a subjective understanding, not true knowing.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    The premise is not only that the language refers to one's private sensations. The premise is that the language refers to "what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations".
    — Luke

    This premise is the one shown to be incoherent, at 258.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You're rushing ahead again and you've missed my point. Let's be clear on what the private language is before you start denouncing it as incoherent.

    What Wittgenstein means by a private language is that its words refer to what can only be known to the speaker, and what can only be known to the speaker are his immediate private sensations.

    If this is the premise, then Wittgenstein's private language does not have two separate conditions. You previously claimed that it did (e.g. see the quote at the top of this page).

    As a result of this premise, the language cannot be understood by another person.

    Regardless of whether this is incoherent or why, this is what Wittgenstein means by a private language. Do you agree?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    As a result of this premise, the language cannot be understood by another person.Luke

    That is the second condition.

    You see the two as one, because you think that the second necessarily follows from the first. But the second does not follow from the first, because of the incoherency of the first. If the hypothesis of a conditional is incoherent, then the proposed conclusion does not follow, and the two must be apprehended as distinct.

    So your statement "As a result of this premise, the language cannot be understood by another person" is a false statement. This does not follow from the premise, "as a result", because the premise is incoherent so nothing can follow logically from it. You want to reject the incoherency of the premise as irrelevant and claim that the second thing "the language cannot be understood by another" follows logically from the premise, but we cannot proceed from an incoherent premise to claim that anything follows logically from it.

    You continue to ignore the fact that Wittgenstein asks a question at 243. Can we imagine such a language? He is not telling us to imagine a language such as..., he is asking if it is possible to imagine a language such as... Do you grasp the difference?. He is not telling us that the second follows from the first, he is asking us if it does. Of course he knows that it does not, because he is about to demonstrate that the first is incoherent. So he would be a fool to stipulate that "the language cannot be understood by another person" follows necessarily from the premise, as you insist, because he is about to demonstrate that it does not.
  • Luke
    1.7k
    That is the second condition.

    You see the two as one, because you think that the second necessarily follows from the first. But the second does not follow from the first, because of the incoherency of the first. If the hypothesis of a conditional is incoherent, then the proposed conclusion does not follow, and the two must be apprehended as distinct.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    You said earlier that "this proposed "private language" can be interpreted as such a conditional proposition."

    That is, you earlier seemed to be saying that the private language is described by the conditional proposition, if X then Y. However, you now appear to be saying that the private language is described only by the premise X.

    If the private language is described only by the premise X, then the conclusion Y does not describe the private language and cannot be a condition of the language. Therefore, it is not a second condition.

    Also, you are now saying that only X is incoherent, but that Y is not. Whereas I see Wittgenstein as saying that both X and Y describe the private language and that both are incoherent. What makes you think that the conclusion, Y, is coherent? .

    Don't you think that Wittgenstein's private language argument is an argument against the coherency of a private language; against the coherency of a language that another person cannot understand?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k

    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". There is nothing there but an incoherency, and we would go around in circles forever trying to understand a logical incoherency, when such a thing is impossible.

    Suppose he had said 'Can we imagine a square circle? And what I mean by a square circle is an equilateral rectangle which has a circumference with each point equidistant from the centre.' You would see right away that we cannot imagine such a thing as the named "square circle" because it is logically incoherent, so there would be no point in discussing what does he mean by "square circle" because it's an incoherency. There would be no such thing as what he means by "square circle", because he has presented us with something incoherent.

    This is exactly what he does with the proposition 'could we imagine a private language, and by "private language" I mean...'. He presents us with something logically incoherent and asks us if we can imagine such a thing. Of course the incoherency is a lot more subtle, and difficult to apprehend, and this was intentional by Wittgenstein, to create the appearance that what he proposes might actually hold the possibility of being logically coherent. But once the description given is understood as logically incoherent, then we must conclude that it is impossible to understand what Wittgenstein means by "private language".

    Don't you think that Wittgenstein's private language argument is an argument against the coherency of a private language; against the coherency of a language that another person cannot understand?Luke

    No, I do not think it's an argument "against the coherency of a language that another person cannot understand". When the hypothesis of the conditional (the words refer to what is only known by the speaker) is demonstrated as incoherent, there is nothing we can logically say about the proposed conclusion of the conditional. So there is nothing presented to validly produce the conclusion you present me with. What is demonstrated is that a person who is privately using symbols (call this a private language-game if you want), cannot actually know or understand one's own usage, because knowing and understanding requires an independent justification.

    There is no demonstration whereby we might conclude that other people cannot come to know or understand the private language-game. And so, "sounds which no one else understands but which I
    'appear to understand''' (269) might become understood and known by others, as this private game is endowed with rules, becoming part of a common language.

    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. And I think he presents this as a possible reason why the common languages consist of so many different language-games. .
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    9.2k
    Don't you think that Wittgenstein's private language argument is an argument against the coherency of a private language; against the coherency of a language that another person cannot understand?Luke

    Let me reply to this in a way which might be more clear to you Luke. 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 words (269), and Wittgenstein does not provide the required demonstration to show that it is necessarily the case that another person would be able to understand that language. So there is no argument "against the coherency of a language that another person cannot understand". That the person cannot know and understand one's own usage, in a private language-game (which is what is demonstrated), does not lead to the conclusion that another person will necessarily know or understand that language-game. So the person would have a private language-game, and it is not necessarily the case that others could understand it. Therefore "a language that another person cannot understand" is not ruled out as incoherent, but this language would not be known or understood to the person using it as well.
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