"Not a Something"

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Roger Teichmann


This invited paper by Roger Teichmann will be published in June 2017.


Wittgenstein’s remark in section 304 of the Investigations that a sensation ”is not a something, but not a nothing either” has often been connected with his critique of the ”picture of an inner process”, and there is a temptation to read ”something” as meaning ”something private”.  I argue that his remark should be taken more at face value, and that we can understand its purport via a consideration of the notion of consisting in.  I explore this multi-faceted notion and its connection with an extended version of the Context Principle, beginning with the case of certain propositional attitudes and moving on to sensations.  Wittgenstein was right to think it a philosophical prejudice to say that X’s being in pain, say, must consist in, be constituted by, something.

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