• Luke
    2.1k
    Luke, the concept of "a private language" is incoherent from the outset, so there is no point in trying to determine what Wittgenstein means by "private language".Metaphysician Undercover

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

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

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

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

    In what sense could a person "have" this language? They don't know or understand the language, but yet they "have" it? How?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    If we cannot understand what Wittgenstein means by a private language, then how does his private language have two conditions as you claim?Luke

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I believe that what Wittgenstein was trying to demonstrate is that any proposed form of a "private" language could not produce "knowledge", as knowledge is understood in epistemology, requiring justification. The proposed form of "private language", defined at 243, requires that the speaker knows what the words refer to, and so is ruled out as impossible. But other forms of "private" language, similar to the language-game described at 258, which consist of word use without knowing, might be very possible and very real.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Just like any logically incoherent proposal can have two conditions. That's why I presented the square circle example. In this example, the one alone is not logically incoherent, it is the inconsistency between the two which produces the incoherency.Metaphysician Undercover

    So your two conditions of the private language are:

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

    Is that right? If so, what about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    I cannot imagine it.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There is no language-game described at 258. There is nothing more than an association of a sign with a sensation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    (iii) "the words of this language refer to what can only be known by the person speaking".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Why do you think that associating a sign with a sensation does not qualify to be called a "language-game"?
  • Luke
    2.1k
    (iii) "the words of this language refer to what can only be known by the person speaking".

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

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

    How does (iii) differ from (i) and (ii)?

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

    Where's your proof of this?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I quoted PI 7. You failed to comment.

    If a language consists of a multitude of language-games, then most likely there was a first language-game prior to there being a language.Metaphysician Undercover

    Then that language-game would constitute the language. See PI 7. Therefore, a private language and/or private language-game cannot exist because they are incoherent concepts.

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

    Right. Therefore, the supposed private language cannot get off the ground.

    But you need to accept that "private language" as described at 243 is incoherent, and move along to Wittgenstein's next proposal of "private language", the one at 269, which is inconsistent with 243, as different from it.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is not a "next proposal" or a new proposal for a different sort of private language.

    So at 269, there is a proposal that the "private language" user has a "subjective understanding" of what the words refer to, rather than actually knowing what the words refer to as "private language" at 243 requires . In this sense of "private language", at 269, the person might "appear to understand", rather than actually "know" which is required at 243.Metaphysician Undercover

    269 focuses only on a person's behaviour, and on the behavioural criteria for saying that a (another) person understands or does not understand a word. Wittgenstein also gives a third option: "criteria for his ‘thinking he understands’, attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one." To be clear, this is about understanding a word of our public language, and the person does not actually understand here.

    In this latter case, "sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’ might be called a “private language”." But that does not mean that it is a private language (or any language). Having shown the incoherency of a private language "from the inside" as it were, Wittgenstein allows for the possibility that, from an outsider's perspective, others might refer to this sort of behaviour as a "private language". The point is that this ascription has nothing to do with any private internal object.

    Here is what the SEP article on Private Language says about it:

    So far the argument has been conducted in terms of an ‘I’ not essentially related to body or related only to an inert body. At §269, however, it moves to examples where there is bodily behaviour but despite this there is still the temptation to think of private meanings for words independent of their public use. This suggests a further chance for a defender of the idea of a private language: that a private linguist might secure a meaning for his sign ‘S’ by correlating its private use with some public phenomenon. This would apparently serve to provide a function for the noting of ‘S’ in the diary (§260) and thus give a place for ostensive definition, and would give as well a guarantee that there is some constancy in the linguist’s use of the term ‘S’ independent of his impression of such constancy. Wittgenstein uses the example of the manometer in §§270–271 to consider this idea, and his criticism of it is in effect that this method of securing meaning works, but that the secured meaning is public: the so-called “private object”, even if there were such a thing, is revealed to be irrelevant to meaning. Presumably a defender of “private language” would hope that the example would work like this: if I keep saying, on the basis of my sensation, that my blood pressure is rising, and the manometer shows that I am right, then this success in judging my own blood pressure shows that I had in fact established a private meaning for the sign ‘S’ and was using the sign in the same way each time to judge that my sensation was the same each time. However, all the example really shows is that just thinking that I have the same sensation now as I had when my blood pressure rose formerly, can be a good guide to the rising of my blood pressure. Whether in some “private sense” the sensation was “actually the same” or not becomes completely irrelevant to the question of constancy in the use of ‘S’—that is, there is no gap between the actual nature of the sensation and my impression of it, and ‘S’ in this case could mean merely ‘sensation of the rising of the blood pressure’; indeed, for all we are told of the sign’s role, it could even mean just ‘blood pressure rising’.SEP article on Private Language

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

    What's the definition? Why is this not as incoherent as the private language of 243?

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

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

    Hiding behind your misplaced condescension does not answer the question.

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

    Because:

    It is explicitly stated at the end of 258, that there is no such thing as the correct use of S, there is no right here. "There is no criterion of correctness" Therefore we can conclude that the person cannot "know" the sensation called S... The conclusion at the end of 258 is that I cannot come to know "a certain sensation" in the way proposed by the example.Metaphysician Undercover

    To understand a language means to have mastered a technique. — PI 199

    Your suggestion that one can speak or know or "have" a language that one does not understand is ludicrous.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    Then that language-game would constitute the language. See PI 7. Therefore, a private language and/or private language-game cannot exist because they are incoherent concepts.Luke

    Sorry Lujke, I don't follow your logic. What makes the "private language" described at 243 incoherent is the condition that the speaker "knows" what the words refer to. If we remove that condition, as Wittgenstein does at 269, and replace it with the condition that the speaker has a "subjective understanding", or might merely "appear to understand" what the words refer to in a private language, then "private language" is no longer incoherent.

    In this latter case, "sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’ might be called a “private language”." But that does not mean that it is a private language (or any language).Luke

    What kind of nonsense is this? Of course it is not a "private language" as described at 243, but now Wittgenstein has decided to call something else a "private language". Do you remember or discussion about ambiguity? If "private language" is intentionally used ambiguously, then its meaning is ambiguous. We cannot say that either the first or the second "private language: is "the private language" intended by Wittgenstein, the meaning is left ambiguous.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Everything okay, fella? You barely even touched my post.

    Then that language-game would constitute the language. See PI 7. Therefore, a private language and/or private language-game cannot exist because they are incoherent concepts.
    — Luke

    Sorry Lujke, I don't follow your logic.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not my logic; it's Wittgenstein's. Did you read the part of PI 7 that I quoted above? Here it is again:

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

    What Wittgenstein calls a language-game includes "the whole, consisting of language and the activities into which it is woven". As I said, you cannot have a language-game without a language.

    What makes the "private language" described at 243 incoherent is the condition that the speaker "knows" what the words refer to.Metaphysician Undercover

    How does this "condition" make it incoherent?

    If we remove that condition, as Wittgenstein does at 269, and replace it with the condition that the speaker has a "subjective understanding", or might merely "appear to understand" what the words refer to in a private language, then "private language" is no longer incoherent.Metaphysician Undercover

    Appearances can be deceiving. What is it that he appears to understand? Wittgenstein tells us at 269 that the alleged private linguist is "attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one". Doesn't this imply that he does not understand the meaning of the word? To paraphrase 246, if we are using the word “understand” as it is normally used (and how else are we to use it?), then this person does not understand the meaning of the word. It is not coherent for a person to have or to know a private language that they do not understand.

    Do you consider there to be a difference between having and knowing a language?

    The SEP article offers a different reason for the incoherency:

    ...the private language argument is that the idea is exposed as unintelligible when pressed—we cannot make sense of the circumstances in which we should say that someone is using a private language. — SEP article on Private Language

    Of course it is not a "private language" as described at 243, but now Wittgenstein has decided to call something else a "private language".Metaphysician Undercover

    Nah, he's talking about the same private language throughout.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    What Wittgenstein calls a language-game includes "the whole, consisting of language and the activities into which it is woven". As I said, you cannot have a language-game without a language.Luke

    That definition of :"language" at 7, is itself logically incoherent, by a fallacy of composition. It is incoherent to have the whole, and the parts which make up the whole, go by the same name (language-game).

    How does this "condition" make it incoherent?Luke

    We went through this already. As demonstrated at 258, there is no criterion of correctness, no "right" here, so the condition, that what the words refer to is "known" by the speaker, is necessarily violated. It is logically impossible, by the principles employed by Wittgenstein, that the speaker knows what the words refer to. This makes the "private language", as described at 243, incoherent.

    Appearances can be deceiving. What is it that he appears to understand? Wittgenstein tells us at 269 that the alleged private linguist is "attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one". Doesn't this imply that he does not understand the meaning of the word? To paraphrase 246, if we are using the word “understand” as it is normally used (and how else are we to use it?), then this person does not understand the meaning of the word. It is not coherent for a person to have or to know a private language that they do not understand.Luke

    Yes, all of this I agree with. Wittgenstein demonstrates at 258 that the diarist does not know or understand one's own usage of the symbol "S". That is what is intended with "I have no criterion of correctness".

    Remember the example I gave, when I see someone with the same hat as me. I judge it as "the same" the moment I apprehend it, without applying any criteria. At that moment when I see it and judge it as 'the same" I cannot say that "I know" the hat is the same as mine, nor can I say that "I understand" why I judge it as the same as mine, it simply appears to me to be the same, so I judge it as the same.

    It is not coherent for a person to have or to know a private language that they do not understand.Luke

    Now, what makes the private language described at 243 incoherent, is the condition that the speaker must know what the words refer to. So, if you take this sentence and remove "or to know" as a requirement, then we can also remove "not" from in front of "coherent". So we are left with "It is coherent for a person to have a private language which they do not understand.

    That, "the private language which they do not understand", I tell you, is the "private language" presented at 269. This is a fully coherent "private language" (if we overlook Wittgenstein's problematic definition of "language" referred to above, which is really not relevant at this point)), in which the speaker might "appear to understand" the use of the words, through some form of "subjective understanding", which does not qualify as "knowing".

    Do you consider there to be a difference between having and knowing a language?Luke

    Of course there is a difference between having and knowing a language. There is a huge difference between having a capacity, and knowing the capacity which you have. But of course there are many different definitions of "know", and one might make "knowing" synonymous with "having", in the case of language. And this would not be the sense of "knowing" which Wittgenstein employs because each time a person who has, (and "knows", if it is supposed to be synonymous with having) a language, yet incorrectly uses a word, we'd have the contradiction of the person both knowing and not knowing the same language at the same time. You might see that this also could be a feature of the incoherent definition of "language" that you insist on above, which produces a fallacy of composition.

    Nah, he's talking about the same private language throughout.Luke

    How can you not see the inconsistency of "private language" between 243 and 269? At 243, what the words refer to, is "known" to the speaker of the language. At 269 the speaker of the private language has a "subjective understanding", which causes him to "appear to understand" what the words refer to. Surely you will not insist that these two are "the same".
  • Luke
    2.1k
    That definition of :"language" at 7, is itself logically incoherent, by a fallacy of composition. It is incoherent to have the whole, and the parts which make up the whole, go by the same name (language-game).Metaphysician Undercover

    How does that help your reading of Wittgenstein?

    As demonstrated at 258, there is no criterion of correctness, no "right" here, so the condition, that what the words refer to is "known" by the speaker, is necessarily violated.Metaphysician Undercover

    This presupposes that the words have an established (private) use, are used to refer, and it is only that the speaker doesn't know how to use them. It is far more catastrophic than this: there is no such private language to be known, because there cannot be such a language.

    This is no different for the purported "other" private language at 269.

    Wittgenstein demonstrates at 258 that the diarist does not know or understand one's own usage of the symbol "S". That is what is intended with "I have no criterion of correctness".Metaphysician Undercover

    "S" cannot have a usage because there is no criterion of correctness. A usage implies a repeatable technique of applying the word; implies a rule for using the word/sign in such-and-such a way. Without this, there can be no language.

    262. One might say: someone who has given himself a private explanation of a word must inwardly resolve to use the word in such-and-such a way. And how does he resolve that? Should I assume that he invents the technique of applying the word; or that he found it ready-made?

    263. “Surely I can (inwardly) resolve to call THIS ‘pain’ in the future.” — “But is it certain that you have resolved this? Are you sure that it was enough for this purpose to concentrate your attention on your feeling?” — An odd question. —
    — PI 262-263


    That, "the private language which they do not understand", I tell you, is the "private language" presented at 269. This is a fully coherent "private language" (if we overlook Wittgenstein's problematic definition of "language" referred to above, which is really not relevant at this point)), in which the speaker might "appear to understand" the use of the words, through some form of "subjective understanding", which does not qualify as "knowing"Metaphysician Undercover

    Does "subjective understanding" qualify as understanding? Because you are claiming that a person can have a private language which they do not understand.

    How is it "fully coherent" that there can be a speaker of a private language who does not understand, know, or speak his own private language?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    This presupposes that the words have an established (private) useLuke

    No it doesn't presuppose any such thing, it is the example at 258, where the person is establishing a use for the sign "S". The person privately develops a use for "S" without knowing what "S" refers to.

    This is no different for the purported "other" private language at 269.Luke

    Right, they are the very same thing. But "private language" as described at 243 requires that the person knows what the symbols refer to (that's one of the conditions). So the example at 258 does not qualify as a private language because the person doesn't know what the symbol "S" refers to. Yet the description at 269, which is not different from the example at 258, is called a "private language". That's because Wittgenstein offers two distinct meanings for "private language", one at 243, the other at 269.

    "S" cannot have a usage because there is no criterion of correctness.Luke

    But usage is not excluded from "S". That's what Wittgenstein demonstrates(270). Even when the person does not know what the symbol "S" refers to, there may still be a use for "S". After he dismisses the requirement that the person "knows" what "S" refers to, in order for "S" to be useful, the "private language", under the new description, is a reality.

    Does "subjective understanding" qualify as understanding? Because you are claiming that a person can have a private language which they do not understand.Luke

    No, "subjective understanding", as Wittgenstein uses it does not qualify as understanding, it might make the person "appear to understand" though. He describes it as "attaching some meaning to the word,
    but not the right one". A good example of "subjective understanding" is your supposed "understanding" of Wittgenstein's "private language".

    ed.: Just so that you don't take this as an insult, there is no "correct" understanding of Wittgenstein's "private language". Because of the two descriptions, it is ambiguous, so there is no "correct understanding".

    How is it "fully coherent" that there can be a speaker of a private language who does not understand, know, or speak his own private language?Luke

    Of course the person speaks the private language, he just does not understand or "know" it. That's what's exemplified at 258. "One would like to say: whatever is going to seem right to me is right. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'right'". See, the person has a use for "S", and uses "S", but it cannot be the "correct" use of "S", because there is no such thing as the correct use of "S". So the diarist has a "subjective understanding" of what "S" refers to, meaning that he might appear like he understands the meaning of "S", but what he is thinking is the meaning cannot be "the right" meaning, so he really doesn't understand.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    The person privately develops a use for "S" without knowing what "S" refers to.Metaphysician Undercover

    The person does not "develop a use for "S"". Wittgenstein asks us to imagine this development, but upon closer inspection, this development cannot get off the ground.

    At 258, he notes that "S" cannot be defined. However, he tries to give himself a "kind of ostensive definition" by "concentrating [his] attention on the sensation" while he writes the sign down. But this is problematic:

    Well, that is done precisely by concentrating my attention; for in this way I commit to memory the connection between the sign and the sensation. — But “I commit it to memory” can only mean: this process brings it about that I remember the connection correctly in the future. But in the present case, I have no criterion of correctness. — PI 258

    Wittgenstein tells us at 258 that he cannot commit to memory the connection between the sign and the sensation because there is no criterion of correctness here. If he cannot commit the connection to memory, then no use for "S" can be developed. Therefore. "S" cannot refer to anything.

    Here is the SEP article on 258:

    Wittgenstein points out in the diary case ‘I first want to observe that a definition of the sign cannot be formulated’. (The translation here obscures the reason why. Wittgenstein’s word is ‘aussprechen’, better translated as ‘expressed’ than ‘formulated’: the point follows by definition from the fact that the case is one where the definition is private.) So if meaning is to be obtained for the “sign”, this must be achieved through a private exercise of ostensive definition, where I concentrate on the sensation and produce the sign at the same time. (In these circumstances, meaning cannot be extracted from a pre-existing practice of private use, since what is in question is how such a use could be established in the first place.) But if this exercise is to be genuine and successful ostensive definition, it must establish the connection between sign and sensation, and this connection must persist. As Wittgenstein says, ‘“I commit [the connection] to memory” can only mean: this process brings it about that I remember the connection correctly in the future’. For I do not define anything, even to myself let alone anyone else, by merely attending to something and making a mark, unless this episode has the appropriate consequences.SEP article on Private Language


    But "private language" as described at 243 requires that the person knows what the symbols refer to (that's one of the conditions).Metaphysician Undercover

    You are still presupposing that the symbols can refer. You are missing the fact that a use for "S" cannot be developed.

    It's not that knowledge of a private language is impossible; it's that a private language is impossible.

    But usage is not excluded from "S". That's what Wittgenstein demonstrates(270).Metaphysician Undercover

    §258 and 270, for example, are attempts to give the interlocutor what he says he wants, but which, in the end, amount to nothing (in the case of 258) or bring us back to a publicly understandable language (in the case of 270). — SEP article on Private Language

    I quoted the SEP article regarding 269 and 270 the other day if you'd care to read it. What 270 shows is that the sensation is irrelevant to the usage of "S" and/or that the usage of "S" is not really private.

    "S" is said to signify the sensation that one's blood pressure is rising. Whether one's blood pressure is actually rising (or has actually risen) is something that can be publicly verified with a manometer.

    If one incorrectly uses "S" at a time when one's blood pressure is not rising, then "S" does not actually signify the sensation that one's blood pressure is rising. Otherwise, one has made an error and misused "S". However, such an error is not meant to be possible in a private language with no criterion of correctness. On the other hand, if one correctly uses "S" at a time when one's blood pressure is rising, then there is no difference between using "S" to refer to one's sensation and using "S" to refer to one's (publicly verifiable) blood pressure. In this latter case, "S" is effectively a public sign.

    Either way, "S" cannot be a private sign.

    No, "subjective understanding", as Wittgenstein uses it does not qualify as understanding, it might make the person "appear to understand" though.Metaphysician Undercover

    What might make the person "appear to understand" though? If "subjective understanding" is not understanding, then what is it?

    A good example of "subjective understanding" is your supposed "understanding" of Wittgenstein's "private language".Metaphysician Undercover

    There can be no such language, so there is nothing to "understand" (whatever "understand" means).

    Of course the person speaks the private language, he just does not understand or "know" it.Metaphysician Undercover

    Oh right, of course. I speak Japanese, except that I don't know or understand it.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    The person does not "develop a use for "S"". Wittgenstein asks us to imagine this development, but upon closer inspection, this development cannot get off the ground.Luke

    Sure it gets "off the ground", keep reading, by 270 "S" has a use.

    At 258, he notes that "S" cannot be defined. However, he tries to give himself a "kind of ostensive definition" by "concentrating [his] attention on the sensation" while he writes the sign down. But this is problematic:Luke

    The meaning of "S" cannot be known by the person. There is no disagreement between us here. That's why the demonstration at 258 does not qualify as a "private language" as described at 243. However, it does qualify as a "private language" as described at 269, where it is not required that the meaning is known. It is only required that the word has a use, as developed at 270.

    Where we seem to disagree is whether "S" can have a use when its meaning is not known. You do not seem to be able to grasp this fact of language, that people sometimes use words when they do not know the meaning of them.

    Wittgenstein tells us at 258 that he cannot commit to memory the connection between the sign and the sensation because there is no criterion of correctness here. If he cannot commit the connection to memory, then no use for "S" can be developed. Therefore. "S" cannot refer to anything.Luke

    You are distorting what Wittgenstein wrote with your habitual misreading. He did not say that "S" cannot refer to anything, nor did he demonstrate that, and it is an invalid conclusion on your part. Every time he writes "S" in the book, it refers to something. That it might refer to something different every time he uses it does not negate the fact that it refers to something each time. He said "whatever is going to seem right to me is right".

    We have now uncovered a second sense of ambiguity, distinct from the other sense we discussed. What we discussed was using a word once, to imply possible different meanings, like your example of "bank". Now we have using a word numerous times "S" in the example at 258, each time potentially referring to something different.

    This is what has happened with Wittgenstein's use of "private language". At 243 it refers to one thing, then at 269 it refers to something different.

    You are still presupposing that the symbols can refer. You are missing the fact that a use for "S" cannot be developed.Luke

    This is simply incorrect. And that's very obvious. The symbol "S" does refer, and a use is developed, despite the fact that the use is described as "whatever is going to seem right to me is right".

    I quoted the SEP article regarding 269 and 270 the other day, if you'd care to read it.Luke

    Sorry, I'm not interested in secondary sources, and appeals to authority. The only authority here is Wittgenstein's writing itself.

    S" is said to signify the sensation that one's blood pressure is rising. Whether one's blood pressure is actually rising (or has actually risen) is something that can be publicly verified with a manometer.
    ...

    Either way, "S" cannot be a private sign.
    Luke

    Regardless of what you got from SEP, the use described at 270 is purely private. "So I shall be able to say that my blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus." That's a private use, he is describing, regardless of how you depict as "something that can be publicly verified". It cannot necesaarily be publicly verified because the public, just like the private language user has no criterion as to whether he has the "correct" sensation. The manometer will say whether the blood pressure rises, but the private language user could say whatever he wants, refusing to cooperate with your proposed public verification. Therefore the use described at 270 is purely private.

    Do you accept that "private language" as described at 269, is completely different from "private language" as described at 243?

    What might make the person "appear to understand" though? If "subjective understanding" is not understanding, then what is it?Luke

    Obviously, that's what is explained at 270. Something like the manometer would serve that purpose. "Subjective understanding" is use for a purpose. "Let us suppose I regularly identify it wrong, it does not matter in the least. And that alone shews that the hypothesis that I make a mistake is mere show. " For the person using "S" there is purpose and use, for the public it is pure show, it appears like the person knows what he is doing. Neither of these justify "the person knows what he is doing".
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Sure it gets "off the ground", keep reading, by 270 "S" has a use.Metaphysician Undercover

    I've read it, thanks. The use of "S" cannot be private in the scenario of 270, as I explained.

    The meaning of "S" cannot be known by the person. There is no disagreement between us here.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is a disagreement. Unlike you, I don't presuppose that "S" has any meaning or use.

    However, it does qualify as a "private language" as described at 269, where it is not required that the meaning is known. It is only required that the word has a use, as developed at 270.Metaphysician Undercover

    The only use "S" has at 270 is public. At 269 it is the public who describe the person as "appearing to understand" and as having a "private language". These descriptions are made in a public language, not a private one. At 270 "S" can only have a public use, as I explained.

    That it might refer to something different every time he uses it does not negate the fact that it refers to something each time. He said "whatever is going to seem right to me is right".Metaphysician Undercover

    Wittgenstein says this in order to demonstrate that the repeatable technique for applying "S" cannot be established, not to say that "S" will simply have a different use each time. What sort of use is that? How can a word mean something different every time and still function as a word? How is that language? It's just some random association without any persisting meaning. It cannot have any meaning even on one occasion.

    It is not possible that there should have been only one occasion on which only one person followed a rule. It is not possible that there should have been only one occasion on which a report was made, an order given or understood, and so on. — To follow a rule, to make a report, to give an order, to play a game of chess, are customs (usages, institutions). To understand a sentence means to understand a language. To understand a language means to have mastered a technique. — PI 199


    We have now uncovered a second sense of ambiguity, distinct from the other sense we discussed. What we discussed was using a word once, to imply possible different meanings, like your example of "bank". Now we have using a word numerous time "S" in the example at 258, each time potentially referring to something different.Metaphysician Undercover

    The only purpose of this "intentional ambiguity" line of argumentation is to account for your own inability to understand. You complain that the author is being intentionally ambiguous (why would he?) for no other reason except that you fail to grasp what he means.

    Where we seem to disagree is whether "S" can have a use when its meaning is not known. You do not seem to be able to grasp this fact of language, that people sometimes use words when they do not know the meaning of them.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is not using a private language; it is misusing the public language.

    Every time he writes "S" in the book, it refers to something.Metaphysician Undercover

    What does it refer to?

    This is simply incorrect. And that's very obvious. The symbol "S" does refer, and a use is developed,Metaphysician Undercover

    What is its use?

    Sorry, I'm not interested in secondary sources, and appeals to authority.Metaphysician Undercover

    That explains your own terrible reading. Why trust the experts or even hear them out, right?

    Regardless of what you got from SEP, the use described at 270 is purely private. "So I shall be able to say that my blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus." That's a private use, he is describing, regardless of how you depict as "something that can be publicly verified"Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not my depiction, it's Wittgenstein's:

    270. Let us now imagine a use for the entry of the sign “S” in my diary. I find out the following from experience: whenever I have a particular sensation, a manometer shows that my blood pressure is rising. — PI 270


    The manometer will say whether the blood pressure rises, but the private language user could say whatever he wants, refusing to cooperate with your proposed public verification.Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not my public verification; it's the manometer's. Otherwise he would not be able to say that his blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus, as Wittgenstein tells us.

    If you think 270 helps support the possibility of a private language, then why are you attempting to deny the scenario presented there? Do you think that Wittgenstein - as the diarist in the scenario at 270 - will refuse to cooperate with his own scenario at 270?

    Therefore the use described at 270 is purely private.Metaphysician Undercover

    If the use described at 270 were purely private, then there could be no possibility of error. As 258 tells us, a private language has no criterion of correctness and whatever seems right to the private linguist is right. However, it is possible that the diarist could mark "S" in their diary and yet the manometer tells us that his blood-pressure is falling, not rising. But "S" is supposed to signify that his blood-pressure is rising. How do you account for this possibility of error if the use is "purely private"?

    What might make the person "appear to understand" though? If "subjective understanding" is not understanding, then what is it?
    — Luke

    Obviously, that's what is explained at 270
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I must have missed it. Could you explain it?

    Something like the manometer would serve that purpose.Metaphysician Undercover

    Serve what purpose?

    "Subjective understanding" is use for a purpose.Metaphysician Undercover

    It is?

    "Let us suppose I regularly identify it wrong, it does not matter in the least. And that alone shews that the hypothesis that I make a mistake is mere show. "Metaphysician Undercover

    How can the private linguist misidentify their sensation? What criterion of correctness is there? Whatever is going to seem right is right.

    For the person using "S" there is purpose and useMetaphysician Undercover

    What purpose or use?

    For the person using "S" there is purpose and use, for the public it is pure show, it appears like the person knows what he is doing. Neither of these justify "the person knows what he is doing".Metaphysician Undercover

    How does this make the private language possible? If the person doesn't really know what they are doing, then - contrary to Wittgenstein's scenario - are they not really able to say that their blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    The only use "S" has at 270 is public.Luke

    This is such a blatant misreading, I think it must be intentional. "I shall be able to say that my blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus" is very clearly a private purpose. Whether he has a public audience when he says "my blood pressure is rising", is completely irrelevant to this use. And, as he describes, if there was a public audience, they would have no way of knowing if he was getting it wrong (which would always be the case, as per269, because he doesn't "know"), and it would be as if the machine (being replaced by him now) is just for show, not even turned on. This is an example of the "subjective understanding" described at 269, he would appear like he knew when his pressure was rising, but he really didn't, because he really can't know the sensation called "S", as described at 258.

    It's not my public verification; it's the manometer's.Luke

    There is no discussion of a "public verification" at 270, there is the exact opposite. After the diarist discovers, for himself (privately), with the use of a manometer, that the sensation coincides with a rise in blood pressure, he starts to say "my blood pressure is rising" instead of "S". He does this without the use of the machine. So there is no public verification. Now, his use of "my blood pressure is rising" is equivalent to his use of "S" at 258, and there is equally no such thing as "right" here. So he is just pretending to know when his blood pressure is rising, as described at 270, and this is an example of "subjective understanding" (269), what Wittgenstein describes as "...'thinking he understands', attaching some meaning to the word but not the right one.".

    If the use described at 270 were purely private, then there could be no possibility of error. As 258 tells us, a private language has no criterion of correctness and whatever seems right to the private linguist is right.Luke

    Again this is a blatant, apparently intentional, misreading, to support a completely wrong interpretation. What Wittgenstein concludes at 258 is not as you claim, "there could be no possibility of error", it is "And that only means that here we can't talk about 'right'."

    Your conclusion "no possibility of error" implies 'always right', which is the exact opposite of Wittgenstein's conclusion "here we can't talk about 'right'", which implies 'always wrong".

    That the use of "S" is always wrong is the basis for the description of "subjective understanding" at 269, "attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one". It is only by this conclusion of "always wrong", that Wittgenstein can say that the user of the "private language" (as per the description at 269), associates a meaning which is "not the right one".

    I must have missed it. Could you explain it?Luke

    There, I explained it above, ruminate on that for a while. You clearly do not understand 270 because you think that the manometer serves as a public verification, when it does not. it just provides a private use. or a meaning for the private language user. The meaning of "S" is now "my blood pressure is rising". But as described, it is a subjective understanding, and therefore "not the right" meaning.

    How can the private linguist misidentify their sensation? What criterion of correctness is there? Whatever is going to seem right is right.Luke

    It is what is concluded at 258, "here we can't talk about right". When "right" is ruled out, we're left with necessarily wrong. And that's the basis of the second option at 269 "thinking he understands", which "might be called a 'private language'"

    If the person doesn't really know what they are doing, then - contrary to Wittgenstein's scenario - are they not really able to say that their blood-pressure is rising without using any apparatus?Luke

    It's not "contrary to Wittgenstein's scenario, it is the exact scenario. The person clearly does not know when their blood pressure is rising, it's all just a show, a pretense. It appears as if the person knows when his blood pressure is rising but he does not, as 269 explains. The possibility that he "make a mistake" is excluded because he's not even doing what he appears, or pretends to be doing (determining when his blood pressure is rising) to begin with. It's a completely mistaken scenario, as if the machine is not even turned on. The machine cannot make a mistake if it's not even turned on. But pretending that it is turned on when it is not creates what is necessarily wrong, as in, 'we can't talk about the machine being right here'.
    And now it seems quite indifferent whether I have
    recognized the sensation right or not. Let us suppose I regularly
    identify it wrong, it does not matter in the least. And that alone shews
    that the hypothesis that I make a mistake is mere show. (We as it were
    turned a knob which looked as if it could be used to turn on some part
    of the machine; but it was a mere ornament, not connected with the
    mechanism at all.)

    Now, let's get to the real issue, of disagreement between us. Do you apprehend that "private language" at 269 refers to something completely different from "private language" at 243?
  • Luke
    2.1k
    After the diarist discovers, for himself (privately), with the use of a manometer, that the sensation coincides with a rise in blood pressure, he starts to say "my blood pressure is rising" instead of "S".Metaphysician Undercover

    Anybody else with a manometer could also measure his blood pressure. That's what makes it publicly verifiable whether or not his blood pressure is rising.

    Now, his use of "my blood pressure is rising" is equivalent to his use of "S" at 258, and there is equally no such thing as "right" here.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is such a thing as "right" here. We can verify whether his blood pressure is actually rising with a manometer.

    So he is just pretending to know when his blood pressure is rising, as described at 270Metaphysician Undercover

    This is inconsistent with the presentation of the scenario:

    I find out the following from experience: whenever I have a particular sensation, a manometer shows that my blood pressure is rising. This puts me in a position to report that my blood pressure is rising without using any apparatus. This is a useful result. — PI 270

    There is no pretence in this discovery.

    And, as he describes, if there was a public audience, they would have no way of knowing if he was getting it wrongMetaphysician Undercover

    They would have a way of knowing if his blood pressure was rising or falling: by using a manometer.

    and it would be as if the machine (being replaced by him now) is just for show, not even turned on.Metaphysician Undercover

    He says this in relation to misidentifying the sensation, not in relation to being wrong about his blood pressure rising. We can verify whether or not his blood pressure is rising and whether he is right or wrong about that. What we cannot verify is whether he has correctly identified the sensation that he associates with his rising blood pressure. If he marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is measured as rising, then it makes no difference whether he identifies the sensation correctly or not.

    When he identifies the sensation correctly, he marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is measured as rising, so the association between the sensation and his blood pressure holds true. But when he does not identify the sensation correctly, then he still marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is still measured as rising. In other words, he was correct about his blood pressure rising even though he misidentified the sensation. Therefore. it makes no difference to the correct use of "S" whether he identifies the sensation correctly or not. (This explains the 'mere ornament in the machine' metaphor.)

    But, of course, it does make a difference to the use of "S" whether his blood pressure is measured as rising or falling, because then we have a criterion of correctness and can say whether or not his use of "S" was correct.

    This might now lead you to question whether "S" actually refers to a sensation at all. Wittgenstein is well aware of this and invites the question:

    And what reason do we have here for calling “S” the name of a sensation? Perhaps the kind of way this sign is employed in this language game. — And why a “particular sensation”: that is, the same one every time? Well, we’re supposing, aren’t we, that we write “S” every time. — PI 270

    The only reason to call "S" the name of a "particular sensation" is that the scenario presents it as such; that this is what is supposed. But the sensation effectively drops out of consideration as irrelevant here.

    This is an example of the "subjective understanding" described at 269, he would appear like he knew when his pressure was rising, but he really didn't, because he really can't know the sensation called "S", as described at 258.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is inconsistent with the scenario at 270 where he discovers from experience that whenever he has a particular sensation, a manometer shows that his blood pressure is rising. How can he discover this association from experience if he can't know the particular sensation called "S"?

    Your conclusion "no possibility of error" implies 'always right', which is the exact opposite of Wittgenstein's conclusion "here we can't talk about 'right'", which implies 'always wrong".Metaphysician Undercover

    At 258 he says that whatever is going to seem right to the private linguist is right. This means that we public linguists cannot talk about either "right" or "wrong" here (in the public sense of these words).

    That the use of "S" is always wrong is the basis for the description of "subjective understanding" at 269, "attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one".Metaphysician Undercover

    At 269 we can talk about "wrong" and "right", because Wittgenstein is using these words in the public sense. A person attaches a meaning to a word, "but not the right one". The judgment that the person attaches the wrong meaning to the word is based on their publicly observable behaviour. Wittgenstein tells us that "one might speak of a subjective understanding" in this case. And what might be called a "private language" are "sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’".

    "S" has a supposedly private use/meaning, so here we cannot talk about 'right' or 'wrong' (in the public sense of these words).

    The meaning of "S" is now "my blood pressure is rising". But as described, it is a subjective understanding, and therefore "not the right" meaning.Metaphysician Undercover

    The meaning of "S" was not established privately in principle, because the rising of one's blood pressure is not private in principle. It can be verified by anyone with a manometer. If the meaning of "S" is now "my blood pressure is rising", then "S" can be used correctly or incorrectly and one's blood pressure can be verified as rising or falling. This is neither a subjective understanding nor a subjective correctness.

    It's not "contrary to Wittgenstein's scenario, it is the exact scenario. The person clearly does not know when their blood pressure is rising, it's all just a show, a pretense.Metaphysician Undercover

    That the person knows when their blood pressure is rising is not ruled out as impossible at 270. In fact, it's how the meaning of "S" was supposedly established in the first place. Once again:

    270. Let us now imagine a use for the entry of the sign “S” in my diary. I find out the following from experience: whenever I have a particular sensation, a manometer shows that my blood pressure is rising. This puts me in a position to report that my blood pressure is rising without using any apparatus. — PI 270

    It appears as if the person knows when his blood pressure is rising but he does not, as 269 explains.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is no mention of blood pressure at 269.
  • Sam26
    2.2k
    Gertie says, "Experiential states exist as private certain knowledge to the experiencing subject.Sam26

    Getting back to the reason this thread was started, which had to do with the idea or belief that knowing can be something coming from within, i.e., it can be generated from the mind, a kind of self generation of what it means to know. I think this confusion may arise from the use of the word know as a kind of subjective certainty. In other words, one may say, "I know X is true," as a way of emphasizing one's subjective certainty. Hence, one confuses one use of the word know with another. In the case of the quote above, Gertie equates know with an experience, but not a sensory experience, but a kind of pointing to something unknown, the beetle-in-the-box kind of thing. Often religious people do this when they say that the Holy Spirit revealed something to me.

    The reason the PLA was invoked was to dispel the notion that meaning can arise in this way. It seems then, that using know as an a kind of emphasis, can be shown in the way one expresses the word know, or gestures as one uses the word know. This is legitimate use, but it shouldn't be confused with objective knowledge or objective certainty.

    It's as if Gertie has some private interpretation of know, an epistemological use without any objective confirmation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    Anybody else with a manometer could also measure his blood pressure. That's what makes it publicly verifiable whether or not his blood pressure is rising.Luke

    Read what is written! It is "I" who uses the manometer, and "I" who can then say 'my blood pressure is rising'. There is absolutely no public verification described. And, if such a verification were proposed, the person who is "I" could decline it. Therefore a "public verification" is not even implied.

    He says this in relation to misidentifying the sensation, not in relation to being wrong about his blood pressure rising. We can verify whether or not his blood pressure is rising and whether he is right or wrong about that. What we cannot verify is whether he has correctly identified the sensation that he associates with his rising blood pressure. If he marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is measured as rising, then it makes no difference whether he identifies the sensation correctly or not.

    When he identifies the sensation correctly, he marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is measured as rising, so the association between the sensation and his blood pressure holds true. But when he does not identify the sensation correctly, then he still marks "S" in his diary and his blood pressure is still measured as rising. In other words, he was correct about his blood pressure rising even though he misidentified the sensation. Therefore. it makes no difference to the correct use of "S" whether he identifies the sensation correctly or not. (This explains the 'mere ornament in the machine' metaphor.)

    But, of course, it does make a difference to the use of "S" whether his blood pressure is measured as rising or falling, because then we have a criterion of correctness and can say whether or not his use of "S" was correct.

    This might now lead you to question whether "S" actually refers to a sensation at all. Wittgenstein is well aware of this and invites the question:
    Luke

    None of this is at all relevant to the text. It's all your imagination, based on your assumption of a public verification, which is so obviously not what is described at 270. What is described is that the person can say 'my blood pressure is rising' "without using any apparatus". There is no comparison between the person saying "my blood pressure is rising" and the readings of the machine described. What is described is that the person says "my blood pressure is rising' without any machine.

    This is inconsistent with the scenario at 270 where he discovers from experience that whenever he has a particular sensation, a manometer shows that his blood pressure is rising. How can he discover this association from experience if he can't know the particular sensation called "S"?Luke

    We've been through this already, you're not paying attention.

    At 258 he says that whatever is going to seem right to the private linguist is right. This means that we public linguists cannot talk about either "right" or "wrong" here (in the public sense of these words).Luke

    That's not what is written. He said "here we can't talk about 'right'". He does not say neither right nor wrong. Then, at 269, he provides a description of a "private language" which has the person " attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one." This "private language" at 269 is completely consistent with what is described at 258. At 269, the person attaches a meaning to the words, but a meaning other than 'the right meaning', because there is no such thing as "the right" meaning here, as explained at 258.

    Almost all of your post consists of you persistently insisting that Wittgenstein wrote something different than he did.

    At 269 we can talk about "wrong" and "right", because Wittgenstein is using these words in the public sense. A person attaches a meaning to a word, "but not the right one". The judgment that the person attaches the wrong meaning to the word is based on their publicly observable behaviour. Wittgenstein tells us that "one might speak of a subjective understanding" in this case. And what might be called a "private language" are "sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’".Luke

    Right, now do you agree that "private language" at 269 refers to something completely different from "private language" at 243.

    Further, do you see that the "private language" referred to at 269 is completely consistent with the example at 258, while the "private language" referred to at 243 is not consistent with the example at 258?

    That the person knows when their blood pressure is rising is not ruled out as impossible at 270. In fact, it's how the meaning of "S" was supposedly established in the first place. Once again:Luke

    The "correct" meaning of "S" is not established by the manometer, that's what Wittgenstein is explaining. That "S" means "my blood pressure is rising", is the "subjective understanding". The person thinks that they understand the meaning of "S", with reference to the manometer, but they really do not. The person has found a use, and therefore meaning, but it is not "the right meaning". It is the subjective understanding which is described at 269, as a "private language". The person appears to understand, having associated S with a meaning, but the meaning is not the right meaning.

    The right meaning is that "S" is the name of "a sensation". As described at the end of 270, "S" is associated with a particular "sensation". And "sensation" is a public term, so the person must turn to the public language, justify that the thing referred to with "S" is actually "a sensation", as described (260-261), in order to understand the "right" meaning of "S"


    I agree with you on that point, Wittgenstein is rejecting that subjective sense of "know", in favour of a criterion based, epistemological standard for "know". This is why the "private language" described at 243 has the speaker of the language knowing what the words refer to. And when this "private language" is shown to be incoherent at 258, because the speaker is lacking the required criterion for knowing, he proposes a different sort of "private language", at 269, one in which the speaker of the language has a "subjective understanding" of the words, rather than knowing them.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Read what is written! It is "I" who uses the manometer, and "I" who can then say 'my blood pressure is rising'. There is absolutely no public verification described. And, if such a verification were proposed, the person who is "I" could decline it. Therefore a "public verification" is not even implied.Metaphysician Undercover

    In case you've forgotten, Wittgenstein is investigating the possibility of a private language. Moreover, he is investigating the possibility of a private language in principle. That you might choose to be uncooperative or to keep a secret are beside the point, These have nothing to do with the privacy of language, in principle.

    At 270, the relevant word/sign is the symbol "S" that Wittgenstein uses to refer to a particular sensation that he has found to be associated with his blood pressure rising.

    That's not what is written. He said "here we can't talk about 'right'". He does not say neither right nor wrong.Metaphysician Undercover

    He says at 258:

    I first want to observe that a definition of the sign cannot be formulated. — But all the same, I can give one to myself as a kind of ostensive definition! — How? Can I point to the sensation? — Not in the ordinary sense. But I speak, or write the sign down, and at the same time I concentrate my attention on the sensation — and so, as it were, point to it inwardly. — But what is this ceremony for? For that is all it seems to be! A definition serves to lay down the meaning of a sign, doesn’t it? — Well, that is done precisely by concentrating my attention; for in this way I commit to memory the connection between the sign and the sensation. — But “I commit it to memory” can only mean: this process brings it about that I remember the connection correctly in the future. But in the present case, I have no criterion of correctness. One would like to say: whatever is going to seem correct to me is correct. And that only means that here we can’t talk about ‘correct’. — PI 258 (4th edition)

    A private language has no criterion of correctness. Having no criterion of correctness implies having no criterion of incorrectness. If I think that the connection between the sign "S" and this particular sensation defines the sign correctly, this implies that I think that the connections between the sign "S" and other sensations define the sign incorrectly. By implication, whatever is going to seem correct to me is correct and whatever is going to seem incorrect to me is incorrect. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'correct' or 'incorrect'.

    The "correct" meaning of "S" is not established by the manometer, that's what Wittgenstein is explaining. That "S" means "my blood pressure is rising", is the "subjective understanding". The person thinks that they understand the meaning of "S", with reference to the manometer, but they really do not. The person has found a use, and therefore meaning, but it is not "the right meaning". It is the subjective understanding which is described at 269, as a "private language". The person appears to understand, having associated S with a meaning, but the meaning is not the right meaning.

    The right meaning is that "S" is the name of "a sensation".
    Metaphysician Undercover

    What makes you think that the diarist does not use "S" to refer to a sensation, or that they do not understand that they are using "S" to refer to a sensation?

    270. Let us now imagine a use for the entry of the sign “S” in my diary. I find out the following from experience: whenever I have a particular sensation, a manometer shows that my blood pressure is rising. This puts me in a position to report that my blood pressure is rising without using any apparatus. This is a useful result. — PI 270
  • Metaphysician Undercover
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    In case you've forgotten, Wittgenstein is investigating the possibility of a private language. Moreover, he is investigating the possibility of a private language in principle. That you might choose to be uncooperative or to keep a secret are beside the point, These have nothing to do with the privacy of language, in principle.Luke

    Obviously, choice is a significant factor if we consider "private language" in any real way. The "private language" at 243 is fundamentally incoherent, so choice does not become a factor in this proposed private language. The "private language" at 269 is proposed as a real private language, existing in the context of real common language. Here, choice is relevant because the person must choose to maintain the "subjective understanding" of what the words refer to, rather than opting for "the right" understanding, which is given by integrating the private language into the common language. This is done when the speaker recognizes that "S" (private) is a "sensation" (common), rather than "S" (private) means "my blood pressure is rising" (private).

    A private language has no criterion of correctness. Having no criterion of correctness implies having no criterion of incorrectness. If I think that the connection between the sign "S" and this particular sensation defines the sign correctly, this implies that I think that the connections between the sign "S" and other sensations define the sign incorrectly. By implication, whatever is going to seem correct to me is correct and whatever is going to seem incorrect to me is incorrect. And that only means that here we can't talk about 'correct' or 'incorrect'.Luke

    That's your interpretation, but it's obviously not what Wittgenstein actually wrote. He said "here we can't talk about 'correct'. He said nothing about 'incorrect'. It is very clear to me (but incomprehensible to you), that if we have a situation with no possibility of being correct, the possibility of being correct is excluded, then we can say that everything in this situation is incorrect.

    Regardless, the "private language" described at 269, as "attaching some meaning to the word,
    but not the right one", is very clearly consistent with both, yours and my interpretations. If there is neither correct nor incorrect in this situation, it is still consistent to say "not the right one", because 'neither correct nor incorrect' rules out the possibility of being correct. In the situation described at 258, if there is neither right nor wrong, we can say that whatever the diarist is thinking, is not right, because the possibility of being right has been excluded. And that is exactly what is said about the private language at 269, attaching a meaning but not the right one.

    What makes you think that the diarist does not use "S" to refer to a sensation, or that they do not understand that they are using "S" to refer to a sensation?Luke

    If 258 is supposed to be an example of a "private language", (I deny that it's a valid example as per 243, but accept that it is a valid example as per 269), then the user of that language does not understand "S" as referring to a "sensation", because "sensation" is a word of common language. If the diarist understood "S" as referring to a sensation, this would mean that the person understands "S" in the right way (consistent with, and part of, the common language), therefore the "subjective understanding" described at 269 would be ruled out, and it could not be a private language.

    Getting back to the reason this thread was started, which had to do with the idea or belief that knowing can be something coming from within, i.e., it can be generated from the mind, a kind of self generation of what it means to know. I think this confusion may arise from the use of the word know as a kind of subjective certainty.Sam26

    How many months has it taken Luke and I to work through the chaff, and get to the topic of the thread? I think that either Luke and I are very dim, or Wittgenstein is very difficult to understand. Or both.
  • Luke
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    This is done when the speaker recognizes that "S" (private) is a "sensation" (common), rather than "S" (private) means "my blood pressure is rising" (private).Metaphysician Undercover

    The private language described at 243 is one where the word/symbol refers to what can only be known by the speaker. This is not merely “a sensation” or just any old sensation. It is a “certain sensation” or a “particular sensation”, the nature of which is private and known only to the speaker (one’s “immediate private sensations”). The word/symbol does not simply refer to any general sensation, or to the common meaning of the word “sensation”, as you suggest. And “my blood pressure rising” is not private in principle, because it can be verified by others.

    In the situation described at 258, if there is neither right nor wrong, we can say that whatever the diarist is thinking, is not right, because the possibility of being right has been excluded. And that is exactly what is said about the private language at 269, attaching a meaning but not the right one.Metaphysician Undercover

    Not right = wrong. If there is neither right nor wrong, then we cannot say that whatever the diarist is thinking is not right. That would be wrong. You know what “neither” means?


    Regarding 269, I view it as Wittgenstein’s view of the only possible thing that we might actually call a private language, which is where some individual behaves as though they actually understand sounds or words that nobody else understands. We are not told what the words or sounds of this language refer to, and I don’t see how such an individual understanding would be possible, but it is Wittgenstein’s concession regarding the possibility of a private language.
  • Sam26
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    Saying some of the same things again, from a slightly different angle.

    If Wittgenstein is correct about meaning, viz., that it’s a rule-based use that happens in social settings, then it’s an error to think that one’s use of know is based on some internal mechanism of the mind. In other words, the association of the word know with some internal or subjective mechanism gives us the false idea that we have privileged internal access to knowledge. This idea removes the concept know from its social foundation where its meaning, again, is derived.

    Wittgenstein asks the following question in PI 243, “…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?” He’s not asking if we can use the language that we’re familiar with, to write down our private feeling, moods, etc., obviously we are able to do this. He’s asking if we can use words “…to refer to what can only be known to the person speaking; to his immediate private sensations.” So, the person in this example is using a completely private language, to refer to his/her private sensations. Remember, no one else understands the language of this person, it’s completely devoid of any social context.

    Next, 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 (PI 246).” It’s wrong to think that people “surmise” you’re in pain, as if they have to guess it, i.e., they see your screams of agony, or they see your injury - it’s not a matter of surmising. Of course, someone could be faking their pain, or lying, but generally it’s true that for the most part we know when someone is in pain. Wittgenstein’s interlocuter asks, “Yes, but all the same not with the certainty with which I know it myself (PI 246)!” It’s here that we get to the crux of the matter, for what could such a statement mean? Do I discover or learn that I’m in pain? Having knowledge, or the process of knowing, is a process of discovery. Again, do I discover that I’m in pain, or learn that I’m in pain? This seems to be, and is, nonsense. Wittgenstein asks, “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—except perhaps that I am in pain (PI 246)?” The adding of the word know is meaningless in this situation. It’s as if you’re discovering your own awareness, “Oh, I’m in pain, gee, I didn’t know that until just this moment.”

    Could you be in pain and not know it, then somehow discover it? The closer we look at these kinds of statements, the more nonsensical they become. We need to ask, “What would it mean to not know I’m in pain?” One of the ways to understand the use of the word know, is to consider its negation, again, “I don’t know I’m in pain.” Knowing and not knowing have to be seen in juxtaposition. This seems to be why “I know I’m in pain,” amounts to no more than, “I’m in pain.” Why? Because there is no not knowing I’m in pain. I’m either aware of my pain, or I’m not aware. It’s part of being conscious.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    The private language described at 243 is one where the word/symbol refers to what can only be known by the speaker. This is not merely “a sensation” or just any old sensation. It is a “certain sensation” or a “particular sensation”, the nature of which is private and known only to the speaker (one’s “immediate private sensations”). The word/symbol does not simply refer to any general sensation, or to the common meaning of the word “sensation”, as you suggest. And “my blood pressure rising” is not private in principle, because it can be verified by others.Luke

    Clearly, at 270, "my blood pressure is rising" is not verified by others, so it remains a private principle. And if the individual refuses, it cannot be verified.

    Regarding 269, I view it as Wittgenstein’s view of the only possible thing that we might actually call a private language, which is where some individual behaves as though they actually understand sounds or words that nobody else understands. We are not told what the words or sounds of this language refer to, and I don’t see how such an individual understanding would be possible, but it is Wittgenstein’s concession regarding the possibility of a private language.Luke

    So, do you think that what is said at 270 relates to the "private language" described at 243, or to the one described at 258 and 269?

    Wittgenstein asks, “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—except perhaps that I am in pain (PI 246)?” The adding of the word know is meaningless in this situation. It’s as if you’re discovering your own awareness, “Oh, I’m in pain, gee, I didn’t know that until just this moment.”Sam26

    Actually adding the word "know" to "I'm in pain", to say instead "I know I am in pain" does a lot more than what Wittgenstein admits here. "I am in pain" states a simple opinion which the audience ought to allow as possibly true or false. "I know I am in pain" implies that I know what pain is, and what I experience has been judged to fulfill the criteria of "pain".

    The issue is with the example which he has chosen. Since we take it for granted that everyone knows what "pain" means, then when someone says "I am in pain", unless we have reason to believe the person is lying, we take it as synonymous with "I know I am in pain" because everyone knows the criterion for "pain" as unpleasantness.

    If we take as examples, more complex medical or psychological conditions, the difference starts to becomes evident. If someone says for example. "I have ..." a specified disorder, we might ask "have you been diagnosed?" But if the person says instead, "I know I have..." the specified disorder, we would tend to think that there's been a diagnosis.
  • Luke
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    Clearly, at 270, "my blood pressure is rising" is not verified by others, so it remains a private principle. And if the individual refuses, it cannot be verified.Metaphysician Undercover

    Of course you don't actually know what Wittgenstein means by a private language. No wonder this has been so difficult. Here are two separate explanations:

    If someone were to behave as if they understood a language of which no one else can make sense, we might call this an example of a private language. It is not sufficient here, however, for the language to simply be one that has not yet been translated. In order to count as a private language in Wittgenstein's sense, it must be in principle incapable of translation into an ordinary language – if for example it were to describe those inner experiences supposed to be inaccessible to others. The private language being considered is not simply a language in fact understood by one person, but a language that in principle can only be understood by one person. So the last speaker of a dying language would not be speaking a private language, since the language remains in principle learnable. A private language must be unlearnable and untranslatable, and yet it must appear that the speaker is able to make sense of it.Private language argument (Wikipedia)

    The idea of a private language was made famous in philosophy by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who in §243 of his book Philosophical Investigations explained it thus: “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.” This is not intended to cover (easily imaginable) cases of recording one’s experiences in a personal code, for such a code, however obscure in fact, could in principle be deciphered. What Wittgenstein had in mind is a language conceived as necessarily comprehensible only to its single originator because the things which define its vocabulary are necessarily inaccessible to others.Private language (SEP)

    All that matters regarding the rising blood pressure is that it is possible that others can know it.

    So, do you think that what is said at 270 relates to the "private language" described at 243, or to the one described at 258 and 269?Metaphysician Undercover

    I think that they all relate to the same concept of a private language.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
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    Of course you don't actually know what Wittgenstein means by a private language. No wonder this has been so difficult. Here are two separate explanations:Luke

    Luke, I told you the way I feel about secondary sources. They are an invalid form of appealing to authority, because the only true authority is the author.

    You continue to ignore the facts of what has been written in the text. What Wittgenstein "means by a private language" is distinctly different at 243, from what it is at 269. These two are incompatible as logically inconsistent with each other.

    Now, just like you said to me, there is no point in proceeding with the discussion until I fully understand what Wittgenstein says at 243, I can now say that there is no point in proceeding until you come to respect the difference between 243 and 269.

    I think we can look at two possible reasons for Wittgenstein's 'change of mind' We might decide that he is intentionally being ambiguous. As I explained earlier, if this is the case there would be no such thing as "what Wittgenstein means by a private language". Another possibility, and I believe this is what the evidence indicates, is that he changed his mind as to what would constitute a "private language". The example at 258 shows that a "private language" as described at 243 is completely incoherent. So he proceeded to offer another proposal, a more realistic proposition as to what constitutes a "private language". This is actually a common practise in philosophical writing, initiated by Plato. It's called Platonic dialectics. And Wittgenstein is known to have read some Plato. You'll see in the Theaetetus for example, that the participants in the dialogue move through a number of proposed definitions of "knowledge", demonstrating each to be unacceptable, for one reason or another.

    Therefore I think you ought to recognize that it would not be at all unusual for a writer of philosophy, like Wittgenstein, to propose a definition of "private language", demonstrate the definition to be unacceptable, then proceed to offer another definition. If, in the end, an acceptable definition is not found, as in the Theaetetus an acceptable definition of knowledge is not found, this does not that there is no such thing as what is meant by the words. It means that we do not properly understand the meaning of the words. It is only if the ambiguity is created intentionally that it is actually the case that there is no such thing as what the words mean.

    .
  • Luke
    2.1k
    What Wittgenstein "means by a private language" is distinctly different at 243, from what it is at 269.Metaphysician Undercover

    What's your argument for this?

    The example at 258 shows that a "private language" as described at 243 is completely incoherent.Metaphysician Undercover

    How is the private language described at 269 completely coherent?

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

    258 does not mention the word "know".

    So at 269, there is a proposal that the "private language" user has a "subjective understanding" of what the words refer to, rather than actually knowing what the words refer to as "private language" at 243 requires . In this sense of "private language", at 269, the person might "appear to understand", rather than actually "know" which is required at 243.Metaphysician Undercover

    You are conflating two things here. 269 states:

    269. Let us remember that there are certain criteria in a man’s behaviour for his not understanding a word: that it means nothing to him, that he can do nothing with it. And criteria for his ‘thinking he understands’, attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one. And lastly, criteria for his understanding the word correctly. In the second case, one might speak of a subjective understanding. And sounds which no one else understands but which I ‘appear to understand’ might be called a “private language”. — PI 269

    The last sentence of 269 does not refer back to the earlier sentences. There are two separate descriptions here:

    (1) We might speak of a "subjective understanding" in relation to the behavioural criteria of a man 'thinking he understands' the meaning of a word, but who does not really understand because he attaches the wrong meaning to the word.

    (2) Sounds which no one else understands but which I 'appear to understand' might be called a "private language".

    You seem to think that (1) and (2) both continuously refer to a private language. I disagree as I think that only (2) refers to a private language.

    We are told that the man attaches the wrong meaning to a word at (1), but not at (2). However, as I have argued, if you accept the reasons for the incoherency of a private language given at 258, then we can talk about neither "right" nor "wrong" regarding the meaning of a word/sign in a private language, because it lacks any criteria of correctness and/or incorrectness. As such, it is not possible to correct the private language user on the use/meanings of its signs, which can have no regularity or rules for their usage. We might give the name "private language" to the sounds which only one person appears to understand, but this doesn't abrogate the incoherency issues of a private language cited at 258.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    What's your argument for this?Luke

    I went through this. At 243 "private language" requires that what the words refer to is "known" to the user of the language. This is shown to be incoherent by the example at 258. So at 269, it is suggested that we could call it a "private language" when the speaker has a "subjective understanding" of the words; when one attaches meaning to the words, but not the right meaning, and therefore appears to know the meaning of the words when no one else does.

    How is the private language described at 269 completely coherent?Luke

    Well, I don't see any incoherency demonstrated by Wittgenstein for what he is calling a "private language", at 269. I suppose that if you think it's incoherent you ought to be able to demonstrate that. Do you not believe that attaching meaning which is not the right meaning, and having that 'meaning'. private to oneself, is a coherent concept?

    The last sentence of 269 does not refer back to the earlier sentences. There are two separate descriptions here:

    (1) We might speak of a "subjective understanding" in relation to the behavioural criteria of a man 'thinking he understands' the meaning of a word, but who does not really understand because he attaches the wrong meaning to the word.

    (2) Sounds which no one else understands but which I 'appear to understand' might be called a "private language".

    You seem to think that (1) and (2) both continuously refer to a private language. I disagree as I think that only (2) refers to a private language.
    Luke

    Yes, you've demonstrated to me very clearly that you enjoy removing statements from their context, to give them your own 'private meaning'. That, despite your appeals to authority, you have shown me consistently in this discussion. Why would you remove the final sentence of a paragraph, from the context of that paragraph, and place it into a different context? In some schools of formal writing we are taught to use the final sentence as a sort of summary of the paragraph.

    I think it's very clear that "sounds which no else understands, which I appear to understand", is a form of what has been called "subjective understanding". What he is saying can be described in this way: these are words which no one understands (there is no 'right' here), but I pretend to understand. That's why i used the word "pretense" earlier, which you objected to. The person is "thinking he understands", and so is acting as if he understands, even to the point of exuding certitude, when he really does not understand.

    When you apprehend that this sort of "subjective understanding" as a very real situation, (not necessarily in the context of 'private language', but in general) as for instance, your attitude toward Wittgenstein's use of "private language", then we can extrapolate and relate this type of 'understanding' to the possibility of a "private language". A person could have a "private language" which no one knows the meaning of the words, including the user of that language, but the person 'appears', or pretends to understand. "Pretends" is a good word here because it underscores the pretentiousness associated with that false attitude of certitude, when someone pretends to know what no one else knows.

    We are told that the man attaches the wrong meaning to a word at (1), but not at (2).Luke

    What kind of nonsensical argument is this? Why do you think Wittgenstein uses the word "appear" here? We say that something "appears" to be a certain way, when we want to distinguish this from the way it really is, this is fundamental in German philosophy, from Kant. The person 'appears to understand', is a distinction from 'actually understanding'. In the context, that's very clear and ought not even be a point to be discussed.

    Furthermore, Wittgenstein does not use the word "wrong" here, he says "attaches some meaning to the word, but not the right one". By removing this sort of understanding from that which is said to be "right", Wittgenstein is completely consistent with 258, "here we can't talk about 'right'", making the rest of your argument irrelevant gibberish.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    At 243 "private language" requires that what the words refer to is "known" to the user of the language. This is shown to be incoherent by the example at 258.Metaphysician Undercover

    How is the incoherence shown to be a result of the private language user’s knowledge at 258?

    I think it's very clear that "sounds which no else understands, which I appear to understand", is a form of what has been called "subjective understanding". What he is saying can be described in this way: these are words which no one understands (there is no 'right' here), but I pretend to understand. That's why i used the word "pretense" earlier, which you objected to. The person is "thinking he understands", and so is acting as if he understands, even to the point of exuding certitude, when he really does not understand.Metaphysician Undercover

    Pretending one understands means appearing to understand without the belief one understands.
    Thinking one understands means appearing not to understand with the belief one understands.
    These are not the same.

    ‘Thinking he understands’ is not acting as if he understands. On the contrary, his behaviour shows that he has attached the wrong meaning to the word and that he does not understand its meaning.

    We are told that the man attaches the wrong meaning to a word at (1), but not at (2).
    — Luke

    What kind of nonsensical argument is this? Why do you think Wittgenstein uses the word "appear" here?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    What does the word “appear” have to do with the man attaching the wrong meaning to the word?

    Furthermore, Wittgenstein does not use the word "wrong" here, he says "attaches some meaning to the word, but not the right one". By removing this sort of understanding from that which is said to be "right", Wittgenstein is completely consistent with 258, "here we can't talk about 'right'", making the rest of your argument irrelevant gibberish.Metaphysician Undercover

    If you think that we can talk about ‘not right’ or ‘wrong’ wrt a private language, then you don’t understand why we can’t talk about right.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    How is the incoherence shown to be a result of the private language user’s knowledge at 258?Luke

    Luke, we've been through this. He has no criterion, there is no such thing as "right". Therefore it is impossible that he could identify and "know" the thing which "S" refers to.

    Pretending one understands means appearing to understand without the belief one understands.
    Thinking one understands means appearing not to understand with the belief one understands.
    These are not the same.
    Luke

    I don't agree with these distinctions. Not all senses of "pretend" require intentional deception, And your explanation of "thinking one understands" doesn't make any sense to me, and is clearly not consistent with Wittgenstein's use.

    What does the word “appear” have to do with the man attaching the wrong meaning to the word?Luke

    Are you serious? Because the meaning attached to the words by the person is not the right meaning, his behaviour is that of "appearing to understand" (he thinks he understands and therefore is pretending to understand) when he really does not understand.

    If you think that we can talk about ‘not right’ or ‘wrong’ wrt a private language, then you don’t understand why we can’t talk about right.Luke

    Again this makes no sense to me. As I explained to you, the situation in which we cannot talk about right, is necessarily not right. How can you not understand this? When "right" is excluded as a possibility, such that we cannot even talk about the possibility of the person being right, then the person is necessarily "not right", meaning something other than right. How can you not understand this? When right is excluded, what we are left with is necessarily not right.

    How we portray "not right" in this context is another matter. Wittgenstein portrays the 'not right understanding' as "subjective understanding", "thinking one understands". This is clearly not the opposite of being "right". I'd say it is categorically different from being "right". So what he has done is to place subjective understanding, which is the type of understanding associated with the private language, into a different category from "right" understanding, which is to be consistent with the common language.

    f Wittgenstein is correct about meaning, viz., that it’s a rule-based use that happens in social settings, then it’s an error to think that one’s use of know is based on some internal mechanism of the mind. In other words, the association of the word know with some internal or subjective mechanism gives us the false idea that we have privileged internal access to knowledge. This idea removes the concept know from its social foundation where its meaning, again, is derived.Sam26

    I believe there is a very real problem with Wittgenstein's perspective on subjective understanding. In all writing and speaking there are elements of private meaning, idiosyncrasies which are unique to the individual, and these are the elements of subjective understanding. Now, when we go to interpret a piece of oration, or writing, it is the common opinion that we ought to try to determine what was meant by the author. This means that we must delve into, and make our best attempts to understand the private elements, to reach the "true" meaning, as the one intended by the author. However, Wittgenstein dismisses this "true" meaning, as not the "right" meaning, because it strays from the rule-based social conventions. Therefore "the right meaning", which is a strictly rule based interpretation, is not necessarily in tune with "the true meaning", which is what the author meant, including all of one's idiosyncrasies, which are the private aspects of the person's speech. It is often an individual's use of particular idiosyncrasies which makes one into a great orator.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Luke, we've been through this. He has no criterion, there is no such thing as "right". Therefore it is impossible that he could identify and "know" the thing which "S" refers to.Metaphysician Undercover

    Where does it say at 258 that he does not or cannot know what "S" refers to? What is it that "S" refers to that he does not or cannot know?

    And your explanation of "thinking one understands" doesn't make any sense to me, and is clearly not consistent with Wittgenstein's use.Metaphysician Undercover

    Probably because you overlooked the important part. I said:

    ‘Thinking he understands’ is not acting as if he understands. On the contrary, his behaviour shows that he has attached the wrong meaning to the word and that he does not understand its meaning.Luke

    This is perfectly consistent with what W says at 269:

    269. Let us remember that there are certain criteria in a man’s behaviour for...his ‘thinking he understands’, attaching some meaning to the word, but not the right one. — PI 269

    You claim that 'thinking he understands' means acting as if he does understand, but at 269 Wittgenstein distinguishes between the criteria in a man's behaviour for 'thinking he understands' and for 'understanding the word correctly'. It is only the latter where the man shows that he understands.

    Wittgenstein tells us that the man does not understand because he attaches a meaning to the word which is not the right one. That is, he misunderstands the meaning of the word. Here we might speak of a "subjective understanding", but Wittgenstein distinguishes this from the criteria in a man's behaviour for understanding the word correctly (i.e. right).

    This may not make any sense to you because you don't understand it.

    Because the meaning attached to the words by the person is not the right meaning, his behaviour is that of "appearing to understand" (he thinks he understands and therefore is pretending to understand) when he really does not understand.Metaphysician Undercover

    If he appeared to understand then he would not appear to not understand. Wittgenstein tells us that the criteria in a man's behaviour for 'thinking he understands' is that he attaches a meaning to the word which is not the right one. If he understood the meaning of the word, then the criteria in his behaviour would be that he attaches the right meaning to the word and understands the word correctly. Alas, he does not.

    As I explained to you, the situation in which we cannot talk about right, is necessarily not right.Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not necessary. The situation could be that we can talk about neither right nor not right.

    When "right" is excluded as a possibility, such that we cannot even talk about the possibility of the person being right, then the person is necessarily "not right"Metaphysician Undercover

    What is excluded is our talk about right, not that the person is right. Therefore, it is not implied that the person is "not right".
  • Banno
    18.6k
    You've lost this thread. Better to start a new one. Perhaps with a chat to the mods about what happened here.
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