What We Can Learn about Phenomenal Concepts from Wittgenstein’s Private Language
Keywords:phenomenal concepts, private language argument, transparency, de re awareness
This paper is both systematic and historical in nature. From a historical viewpoint, I aim to show that to establish Wittgenstein’s claim that “an ‘inner process’ stands in need of outward criteria” (PI §580) there is an enthymeme in Wittgenstein’s private language argument (henceforth PLA) overlooked in the literature, namely Wittgenstein’s suggestion that both perceptual and bodily experiences are transparent in the relevant sense that one cannot point to a mental state and wonder “What is that?” From a systematic viewpoint, I aim to show that Wittgenstein’s PLA teaches us that the prevailing picture of the nature of phenomenal concepts (henceforth PCs) is upside down: we can only introspectively know what is going on inside our heads, after we learn of what is going on outside (PI §580). In this regard, I aim to defend two associate claims against the prevailing view of PCs on the basis of PLA. First, by means of transparency, I aim to show that there is no de re awareness of our private sensation that could determine the meaning of sensation-words; for example, I am never aware of the phenomenal blueness of my experience of something blue. The second associated claim is that introspective self-knowledge of our private sensation is always de dicto. We can only know introspectively that phenomenal blueness is the phenomenal character of the experience we are undergoing after we have learned that (de dicto knowledge) blue is the color that usually causes in us that kind of experience. Likewise, we can only introspectively know that pain is the phenomenal character of the experience we are undergoing after we have learned that pain is what usually causes some typical pain behavior.
Aguirre, G. K. 2003. “Functional imaging in behavioral neurology and cognitive neuropsychology.” In: Behavioral Neurology and Cognitive Neuropsychology, eds. T. E. Feinberg & M. J. Farah. Yew York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 85-96.
Ayer, A.J. (1954). “Can there be a private language?” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 28 (1), pp. 63-94.
Baker, Gordon P. & P. M. S. Hacker. 1984. “On misunderstanding Wittgenstein: Kripke’s private language argument.” Synthese 58 (3), pp. 407-450.
Balog, K. 2012. “Acquaintance and the mind-body problem.” In: New Perspectives on Type Identity: The Mental and the Physical, eds. S. Gozzano & C. S. Hill. Cambridge University Press 16.
Block, N. & R. Stalnaker. 1999. “Conceptual analysis, dualism, and the explanatory gap.” Philosophical Review 108 (1), pp. 1–46.
Block, N. 2006. “Max Black’s objection to mind-body identity.” In: Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, eds. T. Alter and S. Walter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burge, T. 1979. “Individualism and the mental.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1), pp. 73-122.
Carruthers, P. 2004. “Phenomenal concepts and higher-order experiences.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68. Pp. 316-36.
Chalmers, D. 2006. “Phenomenal concepts and the explanatory gap.” In Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, eds. T. Alter and S. Walter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Chalmers, D. 2010. The Character of Consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.
Canfield, J. V. 1996. “The community view.” The Philosophical Review, 105, 469–488.
Dennett, D. 1991. Consciousness Explained. Boston: Little, Brown.
Dretske, F. 1995. Naturalizing the Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Dretske, F. 1996. “Phenomenal externalism, or if meanings ain’t in the head, where are qualia?” Philosophical Issues 7, pp. 143-158.
Fogelin, R. 1987. Wittgenstein. 2nd Ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Fogelin, R. 2012. “The private language argument one more time.” In Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind, eds. J. Ellis & D. Guevara. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Geller, J. 1987/1988. “Introspection in psychology and philosophy.” Philosophy Research Archives, 13, pp. 447–48.
Hacker, P. M. S. 1986. Insight and Illusion: Themes in the Philosophy of Wittgenstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hacker, P. M. S. 2010. “Robinson Crusoe sails again: The interpretative relevance of Wittgenstein’s Nachlass.” In Wittgenstein After His Nachlass, ed. N. Venturhina. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 31-52.
Harman, G. 1990. “The intrinsic quality of experience.” Philosophical Perspectives 4, pp. 31-52.
Hill, C. S. 1997. “Imaginability, conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem.” Philosophical Studies 87, pp. 61-85.
Horgan, T. 1984. “Jackson on physical information and qualia.” Philosophical Quarterly 34: 147-83.
Horwich, P. (1984). “Book review: Wittgenstein on rules and private language” by Saul Kripke. Philosophy of Science 51 (1), pp. 163-5.
Ismael, J. 1999. “Science and the phenomenal.” Philosophy of Science 66, pp. 351-69.
Jackson, F. 1982. “Epiphenomenal qualia.” Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April), pp. 127-36.
Kampe, K. K. W. et al. 2001. “Reward value of attractiveness and gaze.” Nature 413, p. 589.
Kawabata, H., & S. Zeki. 2004. “Neural correlates of beauty.” Journal of Neurophysiology 91, pp. 1699–1705.
Kenny, A. 1966. “Cartesian privacy.” In Wittgenstein: The Philosophical Investigations, ed. G. Pitcher. London: Macmillan, 1968.
Kripke, S. 1980. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Law, S. 2004. “Five private language arguments.” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12, pp. 159–176.
Levine, J. 1983. “Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October), pp 354-61.
Levine, J. 1983. 2001. Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Levine, J. 2006. “What is a phenomenal concept?” In Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, eds. T. Alter and S. Walter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Loar, B. 1990/97. “Phenomenal states.” Philosophical Perspectives 4: Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind, ed. J. Tomberlin: 81-108. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview. Revised version in The Nature of Consciousness, eds. N. Block, O. Flanagan, and G. Güzeldere. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1997, pp. 597-616.
Lycan, W. 1996. Consciousness and Experience. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Malcolm, N. 1989. “Wittgenstein on language and rules.” Philosophy 64, pp. 5–28.
McNamara, A. 2003. “The neural correlates of facial attractiveness poster #476 presented at Cognitive Neuroscience Society.” Poster can be found at <http://www.anc.ed.ac.uk/CFIS/projects/HBMTemplate.ppt>.
Moore, G. E. 1903. “The refutation of idealism.” Mind 12 (48), pp. 433-453.
Nagel, T. 1974. “What is it like to be a bat?” Philosophical Review 4, pp. 435-50.
Nida-Rümelin, M. 1996. “What Mary couldn’t know.” In Conscious Experience, ed. Thomas Metzinger. Exeter: Imprint Academic, pp. 219-41.
O’Dea, J. 2002. “The indexical nature of sensory concepts.” Philosophical Papers 31, pp. 169-81.
O’Doherty, J., J. et al 2003. “Beauty in a smile: The role of the medial orbitofrontal cortex in facial attractiveness.” Neuropsychologia 41, pp. 147–155.
Papineau, D. 1993. Philosophical Naturalism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Papineau, D. 2002. Thinking about Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Papineau, D. 2006. “Phenomenal Concepts and the Materialist Constraint.” In Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism, eds. T. Alter and S. Walter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Papineau, D. 2011. “Phenomenal Concepts and the Private Language Argument.” American Philosophical Quarterly 48 (2): 175. Quoted from http://www.davidpapineau.co.uk/uploads/1/8/5/5/18551740/phenomenal_concepts_and_the_private_language_argument.doc
Papineau, D. 2014. “The presidential address: Sensory experience and representational properties.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114 (1pt1): 1-3.
Perry, J. 2001. Knowledge, Possibility and Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Proctor, E. B. et al 1976. “The differentiation of male and female orgasm: An experimental study.” In Modern Views of Human Sexual Behavior, eds. J. Leslie & D. Copeland. Chicago: Science Research Associates (Reprinted from Perspectives in Human Sexuality, pp. 72–81 by N. N. Wagner (Ed.), 1974. NY: Human Science Press).
Rey, G. 1995. “Dennett’s unrealistic psychology.” Philosophical Topics 22 (1/2), pp. 259-89.
Rey, G. 1998. “A narrow representationalist account of qualitative experience.” Philosophical Perspectives 12 (S12), pp. 435-58.
Shoemaker, S. 1994. “Self-knowledge and ‘inner sense’: Lecture I: The object perception model.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (2), pp. 249-269.
Stoljar, D. 2005. “Physicalism and phenomenal concepts.” Mind and Language 20, pp. 469-94.
Sturgeon, S. 1994. “The epistemic basis of subjectivity.” Journal of Philosophy 91, pp. 221-35.
Sundström, P. 2011. “Phenomenal concepts.” Philosophy Compass 6 (4), pp. 267-281.
Tugendhat, E. 1979. Selbstbewusstsein Und Selbstbestimmung Sprachanalytische Interpretationen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Tye, M. 1995. Ten Problems of Consciousness: A Representational Theory of the Phenomenal Mind. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Tye, M. 2000. “Knowing what it is like: The ability hypothesis and the knowledge argument.” In Consciousness, Color, and Content, ed. G. Preyer. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, p. 223.
Tye, M. 2003. “A theory of phenomenal concepts.” Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 53, pp. 91-105.
Tye, M. 2009. Consciousness Revisited: Materialism without Phenomenal Concepts, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Tye, M. 2014. “Transparency, qualia realism and representationalism.” Philosophical Studies 170 (1): 39-57.
Tye, M. 2015. “Yes, phenomenal character really is out there in the world.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2): 483-488.
Tye, M. & R.M. Sainsbury. 2012. Seven Puzzles of Thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wittgenstein, L. 1968. “Wittgenstein’s Notes for Lectures on ‘Private Language’ and ‘Sense Data’”. The Philosophical Review 77, pp. 271-320. (Abbreviation LPE)
Wittgenstein, L. 1997. Philosophical Investigations. Wiley-Blackwell. (Abbreviation PI)
Wright, C. 1984. “Kripke’s account of the argument against private language.” Journal of Philosophy 81 (12), pp. 759-78.
Zaidel, D. W., & J. A. Cohen. 2005. “The face, beauty and symmetry: Perceiving asymmetry in beautiful faces.” International Journal of Neuroscience 115(8), pp. 1165–1173.
NWR uses the Creative Commons license CC-BY.
Vol. 1-3 used CC-BY-NC-SA. The collected works copyright ownership for Vol. 1-2 were shared by Nordic Wittgenstein Society and ontos Verlag/De Gruyter.