Severin Schroeder

What is the point of the 'private language argument'?

12th November, 2018

@ 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm

Bloomsbury, 50 Bedford Square

London WC1B 3DP

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Severin Schroeder is Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Reading. He is the author of three books on the philosophy of Wittgenstein: Das Privatsprachen-Argument, Sch ningh (1998), Wittgenstein: The Way Out of the Fly-Bottle (2006), and Wittgenstein lesen (2009). He is also the editor of Wittgenstein and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind (2001).

www.reading.ac.uk/philosophy/about/staff/s-j-schroeder.aspx

reading.academia.edu/SeverinSchroeder

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Abstract

In §258 of the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein imagines how somebody tries to keep a private diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation, which he associates with the sign ‘S’. This famous section, widely regarded as the core of the so-called ‘private language argument’, has been taken to (be intended to) show that no such private naming of a sensation is possible.
I shall argue that that is a misunderstanding. Of course it is possible to invent and use a name for a sensation that has no natural expression and that one is unable to define. I shall explain that what Wittgenstein is concerned to argue against is not the possibility of such a sensation diary, but its misconstrual —: the misconstrual of expressions of sensations as descriptions of inner observations.


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