Richard Gipps

The Narcissism of the Private Linguist

June 2nd, 2020 

@ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Gipps, R. G. T. (2022). On Madness: Understanding the Psychotic Mind (1st edition). Bloomsbury Academic. Cite
Fulford, K. W. M., Davies, M., Gipps, R., Graham, G., Sadler, J., Stanghellini, G., & Thornton, T. (Eds.). (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (Reprint edition). OUP Oxford. Cite
Gipps, R. (2001). Alienation and the sciences of mind: understanding schizophrenia without cognitivist theory. typescript. Cite


In this talk I pursue a reading of Wittgenstein’s wranglings with one of his several inner interlocutors – the one we know as the ‘private linguist’. The claim on the table is that the private linguist represents a narcissistic strain in Wittgenstein’s mind, and that his battle against this part of himself is of a piece with his struggle against pride and with his wish to be a decent human being. This, we might say, is both an ethically and a psychoanalytically inflected reading of Wittgenstein, one informed more by today’s psychoanalysis than by the Freudianism of Wittgenstein’s day, and one intended to find a wider application in our diagnostics, aetiologies and treatments of certain philosophical problems. The intent is not just to use a psychoanalytically-informed perspective to shed light on the central failings of the private linguist; it’s also to have philosophy here return the favour to psychology, by helping to sharpen our reflective understanding of what it means to suffer narcissism.



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