• Joshs
    933
    The private language argument argues that a language understandable by only a single individual is incoherent.
    Language instead only provides sense in contexts of pragmatic social use.
    I want to argue that each of us maintains and uses our own language that exceeds the reach of interpersonal contexts, but my argument is not this use of language is ‘private’ in the sense that Wittgenstein critiques. The concept of language that is the target of the private language critique is one where words refer to meanings that reside in the head independent of their expression.
    In my notion language is ‘private’ only in the sense that it does not require the direct or indirect participation of a contextual community of other persons. But it is ‘public’ in the sense that the individual is already a community unto itself, sequentially transforming itself. Thinking and perceiving is already expressive, before and beyond the participation of other persons. Fundamentally, we show, express and check our language in relation to our own anticipations, in a kind of internal conversation. From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    :up: :100:
  • Luke
    1.2k
    In my notion language is ‘private’ only in the sense that it does not require the direct or indirect participation of a contextual community of other persons. But it is ‘public’ in the sense that the individual is already a community unto itself, sequentially transforming itself. Thinking and perceiving is already expressive, before and beyond the participation of other persons. Fundamentally, we show, express and check our language in relation to our own anticipations, in a kind of internal conversation. From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.Joshs

    Is it a language? If so, in what sense is it private and not a public language (such as English)?
  • fdrake
    4.5k
    From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.Joshs

    How does someone learn to have this internal conversation?
  • Number2018
    469
    In my notion language is ‘private’ only in the sense that it does not require the direct or indirect participation of a contextual community of other persons. But it is ‘public’ in the sense that the individual is already a community unto itself, sequentially transforming itself. Thinking and perceiving is already expressive, before and beyond the participation of other persons. Fundamentally, we show, express and check our language in relation to our own anticipations, in a kind of internal conversation. From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.Joshs
    Likely, you are not aware of the domain of social psychology, founded by Lev Vygotsky. In his book “Thinking and speech,” he convincingly showed that inner speech has an exact social origin. Children obtain inner speech abilities just after a certain period of exposure to playing and communicating in groups of other kids. I could bring other evidence that one acquires language via various processes of socialization. Nevertheless, let me assume that I embrace your notion that our common language is the derivative of the inner language, originated within the ‘constitutive community of oneself.’ When you claim that ‘the individual is already a community unto itself,’ how do you conceive the social constituency of this ‘community within the individual’? Please correct me if I misunderstood you: for you, all humans share the fundamental structures of what you call ‘radical temporality.’ These structures of one’s most essential inner temporary and affective processes found common ground for the social-collective nature of one’s private-inner language that later develops into our common ordinary language. If this is right, you may incorrectly represent the social character of ‘our inner communities.’
  • creativesoul
    9.5k
    Unspoken thought is not equivalent to a private language.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    But unspoken thoughts in the form of inner dialogue constitute conditions in which language can be had in a way that is not properly public.

    Consider for a thought experiment a writer along the lines of Tolkien, who invents a language for fictional characters to speak. Before he tells anyone else about this invented language, can it really be called a public language? It exists only within the writer's mind, even though in that mind it's imagined to be used in discourse between different characters.

    Now remove the explicitly fictional context of that thought experiment, so instead the "different characters" are the interlocutors of one's normal inner dialogue. Can not one use language in that inner dialogue in a novel way that has not yet been made public, a way that exists only within one's own mind, even though within that mind it is being imagined to be used in a discourse between "characters", so to speak.
  • Jack Cummins
    989

    When you speak of unspoken thought, which you say is not private language, I would say that unspoken thought could occur in two different ways. First, it could be about aspects which are hard to formulate in words, since in some cases people may not be articulate their emotions fully.

    The other kind of unspoken might be that which it seems better to withhold from conversations. Here, I am not talking about lying but what seems relevant and in the best interests. For example, it might seem better to avoid voicing a criticism of a person to that person if it could be hurtful and is not essential. So, we can hold back this aspect of potential dialogue as private monologues, which are a private language because they are not formulated into the way of dialogue with the other.
  • Joshs
    933
    Is it a language? If so, in what sense is it private and not a public language (such as English)?Luke

    If the use of a ‘public’ language like English is idiosyncratic to the individual users of it , that is, if the precise sense of each word used either in private reflection or interpersonal communication is unique to each user, then English is ‘private’ in my sense.
  • Joshs
    933
    We don’t have to learn it, it is presupposed by experiencing.

    “ just as a man’s body and “soul” are but two aspects of his way of being in the world, so the word and the thought it indicates should not be considered two externally related terms: the word bears its meaning in the same way that the body incarnates a manner of behaviour.” Merleau-Ponty

    “If our interactions are attributed to ‘culture’, we may seem culturally programmed since we are born into a world of language, art, and human relationships. Culture may seem imposed on human bodies. But we can ask: How can a body have cultural patterns such as speech and art, and how can it act in situations? If we can explain this, we can explain how culture was generated and how it is now being regenerated further and
    further.

    “We can speak freshly because our bodily situation is always diferent and much more intricate than the cultural generalites. A situation is a bodily hapening, not just generalites. Language doesn't consist just of standard sayings. Language is part of the human body's
    implying of behaviour posibilties. Our own situation always consists of more intricate implyings. Our situation implies much more than the cultural kinds. The usual view is mistaken, that he individual can do no more than chose among the cultural scenarios, or ad mere nuances. The ‘nuances’ are not mere details. Since what is culturaly apropriate has only a
    general meaning, it is the so-caled ‘nuances’ that el us what we realy want o know. They indicate what he standard saying realy means here, this time, from this person.
    Spech coming directly from implicit understanding is trans-cultural. Every individual incorporates but far transcends culture, as becomes evident from direct reference. Thinking is both individual and social. The curent heory of a one-way determination by society is to
    simple. The relation is much more complex. Individuals do require chanels of information, public discourses, instruments and machines, economic suport, and asociations for action. The individual must also find ways to relate to the public atitudes so as to be neither captured nor isolated. In al these ways the individual is highly controled. Nevertheles, individual thinking
    constantly exceds society.” Eugene Gendlin
  • Joshs
    933
    Unspoken thought is not equivalent to a private language.creativesoul

    What if I write it down and refer back to it. What if I am a philosopher who has gone as far as he can go in studying the works of other writers because he find that in some way his ideas have moved beyond the limits of those thinkers. So he writes down his thoughts using words in ways that appear incoherent to others but express exactly what he wants to say. His primary purpose in writing them down is isn’t to share them with others but to share them with himself. Referring back to what he wrote yesterday or last week or last month is like studying someone else‘ s ideas to some
    extent, because the very act of writing his thoughts down changes his perspective in some small
    fashion. And in the interim between his previous writing his perspective continues to be enriched simply by living. So web he returns to his previous thoughts
    he finds that he has already transformed
    them a bit. Over time he creates an evolving language , and perhaps never meets another person who understands it. Oh yes, if it is written in ‘English’ that will mean that a fellow English speaker will at first translate the words into ‘conventional definitions’ , but these will
    likely bear no relation to what the author intended. But surely this is not true of every word the author uses.
    What of simple verbs, nouns , adjectives? If language
    functions as a gestalt whole , then , yes, in some respect even the simplest elements of the language belong to the author’s ideocyncratic world. (Essentially, Heidegger’s Being and Time was about the his changed understanding of the meaning of the word ‘is’.)
  • Joshs
    933
    I’m saying both that unspoken thought is not private language in the sense that Wittgenstein means, and that spoken thought is not public in the sense that Wittgenstein means. When we speak with others , our words have their own sense which is unique to us as individuals , because it belongs to a a mesh of and implicit , intricate web of body-environment interaction unique to each person, and so communication is about sharing across , but never breaching, this divide.
  • Jack Cummins
    989

    I have to admit that I haven't read much Wittgenstein. Reading his writings is on my 'To do' list along with Sartre's "Being and Nothingness', but it hasn't happened yet. These works seem a bit obscure and abstract to entice me toward them but this may be my failing and loss. Perhaps I will gravitate and appreciate them in time.

    I can see what you mean about words having meaning which is private, but surely this divide is fuzzy because our thinking is also connected to the web of ideas. In particular, when we are communicating with others in these philosophy discussions the specific words which we use do have private, personal meaning but as we use the words in exchange with others surely we are moving more into others' meanings and partaking in the shared meanings, which lead us to expand our personal ones.
  • fdrake
    4.5k
    We don’t have to learn it, it is presupposed by experiencingJoshs

    I'll follow you down the phenomenology rabbit hole insofar as humans have a capacity to recognise and engender meaningful patterns. In Heideggerese, that's a recognition that discourse's articulation renders the world always-already meaningful.

    However, that capacity is collectively exercised and its content is determined by that collective exercise and environmental effects.

    But it is ‘public’ in the sense that the individual is already a community unto itself, sequentially transforming itselfJoshs

    It comes down to a question of whether the individual's "community unto itself" - the reflexive articulation of the given of discourse - has a strong historical dependence. Given that discourse's content is historically dependent, I would suggest that is the case.

    If discourse, which is always-already interpersonal, is bracketed from the account, what remains of an agent's

    (checking) our language in relation to our own anticipations, in a kind of internal conversation. From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.Joshs

    "stretching along in time" is bereft of any of the modifications of discourse. Which renders the idea that such streching is a "dialogue" only a metaphor. It cannot be construed as a dialogue due to the bracket placed on discursive content.
  • Joshs
    933
    in these philosophy discussions the specific words which we use do have private, personal meaning but as we use the words in exchange with others surely we are moving more into others' meanings and partaking in the shared meanings, which lead us to expand our personal ones.Jack Cummins

    No doubt our interchange with others leads us to expand our personal meanings.It is true that each party’s participation in interaction changes the other’s way of being, but the question is whether there is not an underlying thematic consistency that is maintained in each person throughout all their interactions , a self-consistency that resists being usurped by a larger
    self-other ‘system’. A mutuality, fusion, jointness cannot be assumed simply because each party is in responsive communication with the other. One party can be affected by the interaction by succeeding in subsuming the other’s perspective and as a result feeling an intimate and empathetic bond with the other. At the same time, in the same ‘joint’ encounter, the other
    party may become more and more alienated from the first , having failed to subsume the first party’s system and finding the first party to be angering, upsetting and threatening.

    In both situations of superficial mutual understanding and those where core role meanings are involved, those that pertain to issues deeply important to a person, a ‘meeting of minds’ is not a matter of shared understanding in the sense of a same or similar meaning becoming disseminated among the members of the group. Instead, effective social understanding requires the successful subsuming of each other’s construct systems by each participant in the group.

    When I subsume another’s outlook within my system, for instance as a therapist understanding a client , or a
    parent dealing with a young child, I am not converging on the same or similar way of looking at the world as the other. My system may remain very different from theirs as I understand them from within my own vantage point.
  • Jack Cummins
    989

    Actually I do agree with you that in many respects we only meet other minds on a certain level. I do have some experience of giving and having personal therapy and that is an example where there is an interchange of meaning but it is partial. The client shares experience and interacts with the therapist, but the two persons still retain the personal experiences and may be coming from such different meanings that there is barely any communion of minds. For example, for one person discussion about family may be based on a whole set of positive meanings and the other from negative ones.

    I suppose that in any dialogue the art is to be able to find the connections which enable the common ground, so as to give the possible ways in which the two minds may meet to achieve the best possible collaboration. In everyday conversation this is about mutual negotiation but, in the example of therapy, the art of therapy is to enable the client to access the therapist's consciousness and attention to enable an expanded view to bring some possible new level of awareness for the client. This is to work on the 'stuck' nature of a problem which may have led the person to need therapy.
  • Joshs
    933


    that capacity is collectively exercised and its content is determined by that collective exercise and environmental effects.fdrake

    In my reading of Heidegger the content of word meanings is only determined collectively in the mode of idle talk , which Heidegger says is not genuine understanding but a closing off of understanding. This is the inauthentic mode of discourse, which flattens and makes generic what originates as an individually distinct process of disclosure.

    It seems to me that Heidegger’s notion of idle talk corresponds to the your notion of word meanings being determined by collective exercise.

    In idle talk, “Hearing and understanding have attached themselves beforehand to what is spoken about as such. Communication does not "impart" the primary relation of being to the being spoken about, but being-with­ one-another takes place in talking with one another and in heeding what is spoken about. What is important to it is that one speaks. The being-said, the dictum, the pronouncement provide a guarantee for the genuineness and appropriateness of the discourse and the understand­ing belonging to it. And since this discoursing has lost the primary rela­tion of being to the being talked about, or else never achieved it, it does not communicate in the mode of a primordial appropriation of this being, but communicates by gossiping and passing the word along. What is spoken about as such spreads in wider circles and takes on a authorita­tive character. Things are so because one says so. Idle talk is constituted in this gossiping and passing the word along, a process by which its ini­tial lack of grounds to stand on increases to complete groundlessness.”

    “ The groundlessness of idle talk is no obstacle to its being public, but encourages it. Idle talk is the possibility of understanding every­thing without any previous appropriation of the matter. Idle talk already guards against the danger of getting stranded in such an appropriation. Idle talk, which everyone can snatch up, not only divests us of the task of genuine understanding, but develops an indifferent intelligibility for which nothing is closed off any longer. Discourse, which belongs to the essential constitution of being of Dasein, and also constitutes its disclosedness, has the possibility of becoming idle talk, and as such of not really keeping being-in-the-world open in an articulated understanding, but of closing it off and covering over inner­ worldly beings. “

    “ Ontologically, this means that when Da-sein maintains itself in idle talk, it is-as being-in-the-world-cut off from the primary and primordially genuine relations of being toward the world, toward Mitda-sein, toward being-in itself.”

    In its entangled absorption in the "world" average everydayness has the character of stiflingness, of ambiguity as curiosity, idle talk, publicness, the they. A novelty that is flat, alienating, tranquilized, uproted distraction, unreflective, ambiguous, outward apearance, noncommital just-guesing-at, indifferent, approximate, superficial, generic. “What is talked about is understood only approximately and superficially. One means the same thing because it is in the same averageness that we have a common understanding of what is said.”

    "Uncanniness is the fundamental kind of being-in-the-world, although it is covered over in everydayness.
    Tranquilized, familar being-in-the-world is a mode of the uncanniness of Da-sein, not the other way around. Not-being-at-home must be conceived existentialy and ontologicaly as the more primordial phenomenon."

    "The publicness of the they suppresses everything unfamilar" "Even as covered over, the familar is a mode of the unfamiliar ." To meaningfuly understand is not to
    interrupt and uproot but to stay with, dwell with, reflect on, to contemplatively wonder rather than superficialy know and move on, to carry out what was guessed at in the ambiguity of idle talk and curiosity. This is authentic Dasein. Publicness is not the same as conditoned inter-
    subjectivity because it originates in foreclosing projecting. It’s Dasein’s own ambiguous meaning. Not a shared definite meaning. Publicness “does not first originate through certain conditions which influence Da-sein "from the outside”.” Communication is an illusion born of the ambiguity of the supposedly shared meaning between people.
  • Luke
    1.2k
    If the use of a ‘public’ language like English is idiosyncratic to the individual users of it , that is, if the precise sense of each word used either in private reflection or interpersonal communication is unique to each user, then English is ‘private’ in my sense.Joshs

    If English is a private language, then what would a public language look like? Is a public language possible in your sense?
  • Joshs
    933
    Public conveys a meaning determined within a context determined as a field, ensemble or gestalt. The private language argument thinks of this field as an ensemble of persons. I determine this field as located ‘within’ the individual as an implicit body-environment intricacy. This is the primary site of language. So if I say that a public language in Wittgenstein’s
    sense isn’t ‘possible’ , what I mean is that it is an imprecise abstraction.
  • Luke
    1.2k
    Public conveys a meaning determined within a context determined as a field, ensemble or gestalt. The private language argument thinks of this field as an ensemble of persons. I determine this field as located ‘within’ the individual as an implicit body-environment intricacy. This is the primary site of language.Joshs

    You appear to collapse the distinction between a public and a private language such that all language is private. Against what “field, ensemble or gestalt” do you determine that your language is private? Again, what would a public language look like to you?

    So if I say that a public language in Wittgenstein’s sense isn’t ‘possible’ , what I mean is that it is an imprecise abstraction.Joshs

    Doesn’t this mean that you exclude the possibility of a public language?
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    But it is ‘public’ in the sense that the individual is already a community unto itself, sequentially transforming itself.Joshs

    I have a great deal to say about the OP, against which I profoundly disagree, but I'll settle for now for making just this one remark: this 'deconstructive' move of finding the public in the individual is all very good, but what is puzzling is that this attempt at breaching the categorical distinctions is employed to all the more enforce the 'enclosure' of the individual from society: no need the public, because the private is always-already public: so much the worse for the actual public. The cost of 'publicizing the private' is at the expense of a radical and splendid isolationism of the individual that, far from abolishing the borders between the public and the private, institutes it at the most egregious possible way at another level. A reworked Cartesian solipsism wearing phenomenological dress. This alone is unacceptable, to say nothing of the OP being mired in the myth of the given, which itself is a concequence of erasing entirely any consideration of the specificity of language.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    Consider for a thought experiment a writer along the lines of Tolkien, who invents a language for fictional characters to speak. Before he tells anyone else about this invented language, can it really be called a public language? It exists only within the writer's mind, even though in that mind it's imagined to be used in discourse between different characters.Pfhorrest

    In Wittgenstein's use of the term, the answer is an emphatic yes: this is absolutely a public language. What makes a public language public is it's availability, in principle of being understood and mastered by another. In a mantra: a public language is public-izable. Whether or not the language is, in fact, in use among more than one person is irrelevant.
  • Joshs
    933
    Again, what would a public language look like to you?Luke

    If you could describe in detail an example of public language in its actual functioning, I could attempt to show what it is an ‘imprecise abstraction’ of.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    8.1k
    What if I write it down and refer back to it. What if I am a philosopher who has gone as far as he can go in studying the works of other writers because he find that in some way his ideas have moved beyond the limits of those thinkers. So he writes down his thoughts using words in ways that appear incoherent to others but express exactly what he wants to say. His primary purpose in writing them down is isn’t to share them with others but to share them with himself. Referring back to what he wrote yesterday or last week or last month is like studying someone else‘ s ideas to some
    extent, because the very act of writing his thoughts down changes his perspective in some small
    fashion. And in the interim between his previous writing his perspective continues to be enriched simply by living. So web he returns to his previous thoughts
    he finds that he has already transformed
    them a bit.
    Joshs

    Writing provides a very good example of the dual purpose of language. There is a rich history of people making markings to serve as memory aids. This is very distinct from using language for communication. Sometimes the markings are very personal and may be made with the intention of preventing others from interpreting, codified. Other times, the memory which is being assisted with the markings is a 'collective memory', and the intent is to allow public interpretation. In the latter cases, the one function of language, as a memory aid, mixes with the other function, as a communicative aid.

    To consider a "private language" in the most strict sense, we'd have to determine whether a system of markings could be constructed which could not possibly be interpreted by any other person. Of course we'd have to consider the role of instinctual tendencies, and even the principle of plenitude, so that would be a rather pointless and uninteresting debate. However, I find it interesting that there are these two very distinct uses for language. And, the intent involved in the making of markings as a personal memory aid cannot be reduced to an intent to communicate. Therefore we have a difference in meaning structures. So those who model language solely as a communicative tool are clearly missing out on something.
  • Pinprick
    532
    There is a rich history of people making markings to serve as memory aids. This is very distinct from using language for communication.Metaphysician Undercover

    Just curious, but do things like talking to yourself or using memory aides not count as communication? Especially in the case of memory aides, it seems that one subject does in fact obtains information, albeit perhaps simply information that has been forgotten, but information is being transferred nonetheless.
  • Janus
    9.7k
    Consider for a thought experiment a writer along the lines of Tolkien, who invents a language for fictional characters to speak. Before he tells anyone else about this invented language, can it really be called a public language?Pfhorrest

    Yes, but Tolkien and the reader only know what the words in that invented language mean or refer to by means of translating them into some public language. In that sense there is no private language. Of course there are private conversations; the conversations one has with oneself being the most private.
  • Joshs
    933
    this attempt at breaching the categorical distinctions is employed to all the more enforce the 'enclosure' of the individual from society: no need the public, because the private is always-already public: so much the worse for the actual public.StreetlightX

    If indeed the social begins at a more intimate site than what you’re calling the public , then there is no society in your sense to enclose the individual away from, and your ‘actual’ public is a derived abstraction. But there are better ways of going about this discussion. than my hurling accusations of derived abstraction at your notion of public and you hurling back at me accusations of Cartesian solipsism, rationalism and idealism.

    There are consequences to a solipsistic model. In addition to isolationism, there is resistance to change and arbitrariness when change does take place . Take for example, Beck’s cognitive therapy and Ellis’ rational emotive therapy. Exemplifying the oppositional relationship between a rationalist interpretive
    template and an assumed independently existing reality that commandeers that schematics, these approaches embody isolationism, solipsism and arbitrariness.Heidegger, Derrida, Gendlin and Kelly offer nothing of the sort.

    the OP being mired in the myth of the given, which itself is a concequence of erasing entirely any consideration of the specificity of language.StreetlightX

    The myth of the given asserts that sense experience gives us peculiar points of certainty, suitable to serve as foundations for the whole of empirical knowledge and science. My touchstones for my claims concerning so-called private language are Derrida, Heidegger , n and Kelly. In my reading, Kelly was a radical constructivist. His philosophy of constructive alternativism makes meaning (perceptual, conceptual) amenable to an infinity of alternative constructions. This is about as far removed from the myth of the given as anything I can imagine.
  • Janus
    9.7k
    (Essentially, Heidegger’s Being and Time was about the his changed understanding of the meaning of the word ‘is’.)Joshs

    Sure you can change the nuanced meanings of words, create novel nuances, associations and so on. But all of those nuances are themselves intelligible, even to their creator, only insofar as they are given in a public language.
  • StreetlightX
    6.7k
    If indeed the social begins at a more intimate site than what you’re calling the public, then there is no society in your sense to enclose the individual away from, and your ‘actual’ public is a derived abstraction.Joshs

    From this vantage , interpersonal communication is secondary and derived.Joshs

    You cannot consistently make these two claims. Either there is no public ("derived abstraction"), or 'interpersonal communication is secondary and derived'. Pick one.
  • Joshs
    933
    What makes a public language public is it's availability, in principle of being understood and mastered by another.StreetlightX

    But it will never be understood in exactly the same way by each user of the language, so it is in fact not the ‘same’ language, only similar.

    I’m reminded of Zahavi’s quote from Schultz:

    “ The postulate, therefore, that I can observe the subjective experience of another person precisely as he does is absurd. For it presupposes that I myself have lived through all the conscious states and intentional Acts wherein this experience has been constituted. But this could only happen within my own experience and in my own Acts of attention to my experience. And this experience of mine would then have to duplicate his experience down to the smallest details, including impressions, their surrounding areas of protention and retention, reflective Acts, phantasies, etc. But there is more to come: I should have to be able to remember all his experiences and therefore should have had to live through these experiences in the same order that he did; and finally I should have had to give them exactly the same degree of attention that he did. In short, my stream of consciousness would have to coincide with the other person's, which is the same as saying that I should have to be the other person (Schutz 1967, p. 99; cf. Husserl 1976, § 83).
  • Janus
    9.7k
    But it will never be understood in exactly the same way by each user of the language, so it is in fact not the ‘same’ language.Joshs

    That is untrue: the language is the same, the difference lies in each individual use of the one language. No two individuals use their language in exactly the same way just as no two individuals eat, walk, run, or drive and so on in exactly the same way, or have exactly the same handwriting or interests etc., etc.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment