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By Stephen Mulhall

Stephen Mulhall deals a brand new approach of reading probably the most well-known and contested texts in sleek philosophy: comments on "private language" in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. He sheds new gentle on a primary controversy referring to Wittgenstein's early paintings via exhibiting its relevance to a formal realizing of the later work.

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Read or Download Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 243-315 PDF

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Additional resources for Wittgenstein's Private Language: Grammar, Nonsense and Imagination in Philosophical Investigations, §§ 243-315

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This in turn suggests that Wittgenstein thinks that the reflexive nature of his own writing—its utter dependence upon our everyday capacity to examine our ways of giving voice to ourselves—naturally engenders a fantasy or a fear of giving voice to oneself in a way that goes beyond the resources of the everyday, beyond anyone else’s capacity to comprehend. Perhaps the language that Wittgenstein is trying to forge for his philosophical purposes, as the diary-like entries of his notebooks are transfigured into the numbered sections of the Investigations, depends upon a conception of the self (as knowable and expressible and communicable by at least an imaginative reshaping of our ordinary linguistic resources) that is itself subject to philosophical critique?

There is, again, ‘I know I am a nuisance’, ‘I know I am being childish’, ‘I know I am late’. To (say you) know in these cases is to admit, confess, acknowledge. —Can it be shown that none of these additional uses exemplifies a (the) relevant use of ‘I know’ in ‘I know I’m in pain’? (MWM ) The existence of these other, perfectly ordinary uses of ‘I know’ in first-person cases first of all highlights the fact that Malcolm’s supposedly exhaustive list of three normal uses of that phrase in fact concentrates exclusively on those which are connected with the idea of certainty—uses where it contrasts with ‘I believe’, where it involves claiming that one is in a distinctive position to know something, and where one must be able to document or otherwise ground that claim.

In short, for Augustine, the natural language of all peoples is that of original sin. And Wittgenstein means to invite us to ask: on what experience is Augustine’s ‘assumption’ that his unweaned infant is consumed with bitter jealousy actually based? The point here is not to suggest that the behaviour of unweaned infants cannot be seen in such a way. After all, the mother–child relation, as mediated through the breast, is a primary domain of psychoanalytic interpretation, and would certainly be seen as host ² I am using Henry Chadwick’s translation of Augustine’s Confessions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ); hereafter C.

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