Self‐Knowledge: The Wittgensteinian Legacy

Crispin Wright

in Knowing Our Own Minds

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780199241408
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598692 | DOI:
 Self‐Knowledge: The Wittgensteinian Legacy

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The central philosophical problem of self‐knowledge is to account for, why, in an important basic class of cases, a subject's impressions of her own mental states are both groundless and authoritative, and for why those mental states are transparent to her. The Cartesian conception of the mind is best diagnosed as one such account, on the basis of the idea that one has a kind of observational access to one's inner states. The chapter reviews Wittgenstein's opposition to the Cartesian conception in philosophical investigations and raises the question: With what did he think it should be replaced? It is argued that the exegetically correct answer is: With nothing. Rather, the very question is a paradigm, in Wittgenstein's view, of what he regards as philosophy's misguided tendency to quest for explanation. The chapter concludes with a resumé of some of the discomforts, which this quietist position provokes. It also includes discussions of the possibilities for a successful expressivist treatment of psychological avowals, of immunity to error through misidentifications, and responds to John McDowell's criticisms of some of the author's earlier writings on self‐knowledge and on Wittgenstein's views.

Keywords: authority; Cartesianism; expressivism; groundlessness; immunity to error through misidentification; transparency; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  14771 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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