The “mystery” of consciousness

Paul Horwich

in Wittgenstein's Metaphilosophy

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588879
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744716 | DOI:
The “mystery” of consciousness

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The goal of this chapter is to explain Wittgenstein's view that the familiar philosophical perplexities of consciousness are the result of recognizably defective assumptions rather than the incompleteness of scientific knowledge and of our conceptual repertoire. The central idea is that our ways of using the words for feelings and sensations suggest a certain picture of what is happening (namely, that each person's experiences take place in a ‘private arena’ accessible to that person alone); but we are tempted to misapply that picture, to exaggerate the linguistic analogies on which it is based. This misapplication is what creates the various epistemological and metaphysical puzzles that make conscious experience seem incomprehensible; and so our perplexities will evaporate once it is acknowledged and corrected. These include problems relating to qualia, inverted spectra, behaviourism, dualism, attention, the ‘argument’ from analogy, private language, and the nature of introspection.

Keywords: conscious; experience; attention; sensation; qualia; inverted spectrum; behaviourism; dualism; argument from analogy

Chapter.  14152 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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