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    Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. An Elementary Exposition

    Upload PDF. Follow this author. New articles by this author. New citations to this author. He could easily have extended his claim to publications about the Investigations in general. The first generation of Wittgenstein interpretation has been exceedingly weak, causing his work largely to fall into disrepute among professional philosophers.

    It is no wonder, therefore, that these same disciples have reacted so violently against the reading proposed by Saul Kripke in this short but painstakingly rigorous volume. For Kripke's interpretation renders Wittgenstein's work not only plausible but original and urgent. Suppose any rule, e. Now suppose a new application of that same rule to a case that has not yet been covered, e. But any finite series of applications is compatible with an infinite number of rules, and so infinite many future applications.

    Several objections to this paradox are bound to occur to the reader, and Kripke spends the better part of the first chapter of his book arguing against them. The most intuitive of these is perhaps the feeling that there must be some mental state in us, be it a brain state or otherwise, corresponding to the rule that we intend to apply and so dictating its future application.

    But even the algorithm represented by such a state could only be defined in terms of a finite number of applications — say, a table of additions for pairs of numbers from 1 to — and so could not dictate future use. The upshot of the skeptical paradox is that there appears to be no fact about the extension of a rule to new cases; any extension has as much claim to be correct as any other.

    The switch in focus from truth-conditions to conditions of applicability that characterizes his work from the s onward reflects his solution. If Kripke is correct, then Wittgenstein believes that, for any individual confronted with the extension of a rule to a new case, there is no truth , contained in his mental state or past activity, about its correct extension.

    In a social context, however, there will be grounds for distinguishing between correct and incorrect applications based on a consensus between the other members of a linguistic community. It is difficult to escape this result.

    Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language : Saul A. Kripke :

    For if the only mark of correct or incorrect application of a rule resides in the shared inclinations of a linguistic community, then there is nothing about any given concept — no Platonic form of redness or addition — to dictate its correct extension. The two are simply playing different language-games, and nothing further may be said. Oct 24, Shahram rated it really liked it. Sep 02, David Nagar rated it it was amazing.

    Can only be described as going down to hell and meeting the devil, who ends up being you. Shocked and amazed. True and honest. Mar 24, Thomas rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. As a piece of Wittgenstein scholarship, this is deeply flawed, and this can be established by spending a relatively short time with the Investigations itself. However, Kripke's paradox itself is a major contribution to the philosophy of language, and I find myself struggling with it to this day. Mar 05, Leonard Houx rated it it was amazing. A book so brilliant, it makes you feel brilliant too.

    Jan 27, Alina W. Kripke focuses on explicating Wittgenstein's paradox of rule-following, which he takes to be the central problem in the Philosophical Investigations, and the springboard for Wittgenstein's famous argument against private language. Kripke argues that Wittgenstein discovers a new kind of philosophical skepticism, which radically breaks from all previous forms of skepticism.

    Kundrecensioner

    While philosophers such as Decartes and Hume raise skeptical concerns about the validity of our knowledge, Wittgenstein raise Kripke focuses on explicating Wittgenstein's paradox of rule-following, which he takes to be the central problem in the Philosophical Investigations, and the springboard for Wittgenstein's famous argument against private language.

    While philosophers such as Decartes and Hume raise skeptical concerns about the validity of our knowledge, Wittgenstein raises concern about whether there is any ultimate meaning or truth conditions of knowledge, in the first place.

    This is a difference between asking "is my belief true? Kripke takes us into this paradox by presenting an example of arithmetic. Moreover, we could have been wrong in our use of the addition function in all our past experiences. There is ultimately no fact of the presentation of the addition-sign that indicates that the absolute, objective meaning of this sign is the addition function. To generalize, any amount of particular instances of rule-following e. Such skepticism about meaning leads Wittgenstein to construct "language-game" theory of meaning.

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    Wittgenstein breaks from his project in the Tractatus of identifying truth-conditions, or the ultimate, objective meanings, of linguistic items. This paradox of rule-following shows that it is impossible to have ultimate, objective meaning for any sign.

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    Instead, we can look for assertability conditions , or the circumstances under which some verbal or behavioral performance is appropriate. Wittgenstein's argument against private language is, more fundamentally, an argument against the possibility of an individual's having rules independently of a community; the possibility of a rule depends on a community in which members monitor and correct each other. The rule depends on this intersubjective agreement, and the agreement depends on the rule. Kripke concludes the book with a "postscript" about Wittgenstein's view on "the problem of other minds," or the question of whether we can infer from knowledge about our own mental states to the mental states of others.

    Wittgenstein argues that mental states have unique properties that prevent this generalizing inference. While we can generalize from observations of any everyday object in the world e. Pain uniquely necessarily presupposes a subject who experiences the pain, while everyday objects do not. Whenever we talk about "a pain," we actually use such descriptions as shorthand for "a pain I had".

    So, it seems paradoxical to think other people could have pains; the only intelligible way of understanding that is thinking other people have my pain, which, although logically possible, is clearly practically implausible. This paradox about other minds mirrors the paradox about rule-following. Wittgenstein's solution here is similar: there is no ultimate matter of fact about what "my pain" even means. We learn to say "my pain," for example, from others telling us that we are experiencing pain given our behavioral cues, since we were small children.

    It is legitimate to say that other people are pain given the appropriate circumstances.

    Kripkenstein! (The Rule Following Paradox)

    To generalize, talk of other people's mental states is legitimized by our language games. I might not have fully understood Kripke's explanation of Wittgenstein's solution here; I found this section confusing. Overall, this book was very clearly and straightforwardly written. It is also quite short, just pages. But Kripke does not focus on any other topics Wittgenstein's work, other than the paradox of rule-following, language games, and the paradox of other minds.

    Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language : An Elementary Exposition

    Kripke barely mentions the concept of family resemblances, or the idea of "forms of life," for example. One must look to other secondary sources for explanations of these other topics.


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    I would highly recommend Kripke's book to anyone interested in furthering their understanding of Wittgenstein. Jul 18, Eric rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy. It does wonderful job of explicating Wittgenstein's arguments. Aug 31, Tirdad rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy.