• Wallows
    8.7k
    I'm wondering about the status of psychologism and antipsychologism in the field of philosophy nowadays. One of the most prominent differences that can be said about the early and later Wittgenstein seems to be of his account of psychologism and antipsychologism in the Tractatus and Investigations. It seems to me that the Tractatus is in large part an antipsychologist account of the use of language, possibly due to the influence by Frege, whereas the Investigations is most definitely a book with a psychologism melody.

    But, not to focus too squarely with Wittgenstein, I was concerned with the distinction and the present account of psychologism and antipsychologism in philosophy nowadays.

    To try and answer my own question, nowadays it seems that modal logic and Kripkian semantics displays a strong antipsychologist account for the contingent and necessary. Quine neatly categorized psychologism and antipsychologism with the de re and de dicto distinction, respectively.

    Anyway, what's your take on psychologism? Where can one demarcate the difference between psychologist accounts and antipsychologist accounts?
  • sime
    371
    I'm not sure how you get the impression that the later Wittgenstein believed in psychologism. For he rejected the "picture theory" of meaning, arguing against the reduction of linguistic understanding to mental states or immanent experience.

    But since his methodology was solipsistic, one shouldn't to go so far as to say that he believed linguistic meaning transcended experience, only that semantics cannot be given a constructive universal definition in terms of immanent experience.
  • Marty
    163
    I'm curious whether any historical philosopher (that we would know about any way) really committed themselves to a psychologism. I know there were early refutations of this in Frege and Husserl, but I'm not sure who they would have addressed other than maybe early psychologists, or people who thought logic and mathematics were mind-dependent entities. Always seemed like nonsense.
  • Joshs
    716
    "Where can one demarcate the difference between psychologist accounts and antipsychologist accounts?" Psychologism is a perjorative term, like scientism or historicism, referring to models purporting to describe primordial conditions of possiblity for empirical, contingent phenomena like brain or mental processes. Attaching an '-ism' to someone else's model is accusing them of unknowingly confusing normative principles or grounds trasnscendent to changeable empirical reality with empiricism.For instance, when we talk about THE scientific method, we are treating science scientistically by assuming that method is outside of the empirical contingent historical development of science rather than something that evolves along with it. So one person's epistemological ontological grounding of language or meaning may be another's psychologism(If youre Rorty all epistemology is psychologism).
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I'm not sure how you get the impression that the later Wittgenstein believed in psychologism. For he rejected the "picture theory" of meaning, arguing against the reduction of linguistic understanding to mental states or immanent experience.sime

    I was under the impression that Wittgenstein was advocating an intuitionalist conception of language in the Investigations. You can see it in his famous example of a lion who could speak but we would never understand it.

    But since his methodology was solipsistic, one shouldn't to go so far as to say that he believed linguistic meaning transcended experience, only that semantics cannot be given a constructive universal definition in terms of immanent experience.sime

    What do you mean by "solipsistic" methodology?
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I'm curious whether any historical philosopher (that we would know about any way) really committed themselves to a psychologism. I know there were early refutations of this in Frege and Husserl, but I'm not sure who they would have addressed other than maybe early psychologists, or people who thought logic and mathematics were mind-dependent entities. Always seemed like nonsense.Marty

    Just off the top of my head, Hume advocated psychologism with the problem of induction. Kant seems to have advocated an antipsychologism take on philosophy with his Critique of Pure Reason. It can go both ways with Kant.

    Some other notable philosophers that seemed to have proponents of psychologism were Schopenhauer, existentialists (kinda broad definition), and phenomenologists.

    What do you think?
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    So one person's epistemological ontological grounding of language or meaning may be another's psychologism(If youre Rorty all epistemology is psychologism).Joshs

    Yeah, so hence why I ask if a demarcation between psychologism and antipsychologism can be drawn? It seems like one of those false dichotomies like the objective-subjective distinction.

    Let me know about your take on Rorty. Quite interested.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    As I've said a number of times, I think that one of philosophy's biggest mistakes was the rejection of psychologism.

    The desire to reject psychologism arose with the desire to more or less attempt to make philosophy a science, per a sort of caricatured view of what science is/should be a la the mid to later 19th century. Most academic disciplines attempt to "scientize" themselves by the later 19th century.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    As I've said a number of times, I think that one of philosophy's biggest mistakes was the rejection of psychologism.Terrapin Station

    You mean analytic philosophy, I assume? Continental philosophy seems rife with psychologism in my opinion. Just look at, for example, The Structure of Behavior: Maurice Merleau-Ponty or even Hume.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    You mean analytic philosophy, I assume? Continental philosophy seems rife with psychologism in my opinion. Just look at, for example, The Structure of Behavior: Maurice Merleau-Ponty or even Hume.Wallows

    Yeah, analytic philosophy primarily. And re Hume, the rejection of psychologism occurred in the 19th century. So after Hume.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    And re Hume, the rejection of psychologism occurred in the 19th century. So after Hume.Terrapin Station

    You mean here, that Frege along with the logical positivists, yes?
  • Marty
    163
    Just off the top of my head, Hume advocated psychologism with the problem of induction. Kant seems to have advocated an antipsychologism take on philosophy with his Critique of Pure Reason. It can go both ways with Kant.

    Some other notable philosophers that seemed to have proponents of psychologism were Schopenhauer, existentialists (kinda broad definition), and phenomenologists.

    Well, I think any psychological view of Kant is a really bad misreading. I mean his entire critiques attempts to prove the universality of epistemology, ethics, aesthetics. Later his construction of nature was extremely antithetical to any psychologisms.

    As for Hume, you may be right: he might be the only example historically that I can think of. With the caveat that I think Hume actually left it open that things like causation do really occur, and there might be a uniformity of nature, but we just do not possess the capacity to know.

    Also, I'm not sure about Schopenhauer? Nor am I seeing it with any of the existentialist (perhaps Nietzsche)? And definitely not the phenomenologists — all phenomenon are intentional (directed towards objects), and Husserl himself had a giant critique of psychologism.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k


    Yes, as well as Husserl and others.
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    Sorry, I think you're on point with Kant. Though, psychologism has been replaced by cognitive science in the field of philosophy as of late. What do you think?
  • Joshs
    716
    what’s the difference between psychologism and cognitive science?
  • Wallows
    8.7k


    Not much as far as I can tell.
  • Marty
    163
    I mean, it's probably a mistake.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I mean, it's probably a mistake.Marty

    What do you mean by that?
  • Marty
    163
    I'm not sure what it means to say that, like, logic, mathematics, valid inference rules, certain types of categories are "in the mind".
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k


    Those things are simply ways that we think.
  • Marty
    163


    I'd need a positive account for why that'd be the case.
  • Wallows
    8.7k
    I'm not sure what it means to say that, like, logic, mathematics, valid inference rules, certain types of categories are "in the mind".Marty

    So, where does one demarcate where psychologism starts and where it ends? It seems like a hopeless task to try and demarcate the difference between psychologism and antipsychologism.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Don't we have evidence that we do indeed think in terms of logic, mathematics, etc.?
  • Marty
    163
    Sure, the point is if it's conditioned by the mind or not.

    If something is necessarily true, like mathematical statements, I'm not sure how they can be dependent on something contingent: like the mind that incidental exists, or psychological states that are vague.

    The general project of making some of the categories transcendental is to hold some form of identity between the world and the subject, and having some basis for the form the world phenomenally shows itself.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k


    Since we have a "positive account" that those are ways that we think, we'd now need a "positive account"--in other words, similarly accessible empirical evidence--that they're something else, too.
  • Marty
    163
    I just offered one last post.

    I don't think "those are ways we think" is enough to say it's merely that, either. Might as well go on to say that things we see are just "ways of seeing" and the objects are just in our heads or something.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k


    The problem is all our accounts we give are the way we think. When we make an observation of empirical evidence and analyse it with our descriptions and scientific through, we are entirely within our own minds. From beginning to end, we are using reports of our thoughts, sensations and feelings to give description of what is true.

    Are our observations and theories "just psychological" because they appear in our mind? Is the fact that what we our conscious of when we make an empirical observation enough to say what we are thinking about is just a creation of our mind?

    No, we take our experiences report something true about the world, about facts that are independent form our psychology even though they only ever appear to us in our mind.

    The question is, why would we assume this must be different for truths like ethics, math or aesthetics? They, like empirical observations, appear to us in our minds. And like empirical observations, we have nothing but an appearance, sensation or idea in our minds to report their truth. Why assume that only that empirical experiences report independent truths?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    The problem is all our accounts we give are the way we think.TheWillowOfDarkness

    I'm not claiming that the map is (necessarily) the territory. Are you?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k


    My point is about the maps. In any case, when we have an experience reporting something (a map), it is a state of our experience, a feeling, a sensation, an idea, etc.

    Whether we are treating these maps as directly descriptive (i.e. showing exactly what's there) or just an incomplete pointer to something else, it tells us something, reflects a truth independent of our experience, the territory.

    My point is how can you conclude our maps of empirical observation have territory and our other notions don't? In any case, we only have the appearance of our map (our experience) and do not get outside it at any point. How can you justify empirical observations are maps with territory, while ethics, logic, math and aesthetics are maps without territory?
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    My point is how can you conclude our maps of empirical observation have territory and our other notions don't?TheWillowOfDarkness

    How can we know that there's a territory to map and that there's anything different than maps?
  • sime
    371
    I was under the impression that Wittgenstein was advocating an intuitionalist conception of language in the Investigations. You can see it in his famous example of a lion who could speak but we would never understand it.Wallows

    Wittgenstein draws a sharp distinction between understanding how to use a word according to public convention, versus the personal attribution of meaning to a word by private acts of the imagination as part of self-expression or sense-making. And he denied the existence of a necessary relationship between these two sorts of meaning. So he wasn't a "psychologismist" in the sense of believing that the meaning of theoretical terms of public discourse could be semantically reduced to private experiences via a private application of translation rules that map theoretical terms into observation terms - as was briefly considered by the logical positivists during their foray into phenomenalism and verificationism.

    Wittgenstein's arguments against private language therefore present a paradox. For he presented thought experiments that supposedly delineate public linguistic semantics from 'a priori' private intuition, yet these arguments only appeal to private intuition... His arguments are like arguing with oneself that one's mental image of Elvis Presley isn't the real Elvis Presley because one can imagine the "real" Elvis entering the room.

    Hence in my opinion, Wittgenstein's private language arguments cannot be consistently interpreted as being a proof of ontological claims. Rather, they should be construed more weakly as being a therapeutic construction with only medicinal value - arguments that judging by the confusion of the public, appear to have failed in their intended therapeutic purpose.
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