Jonathan Ellis and Daniel Guevara

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:

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David Hills’s foreword to this volume begins by wondering how it is that professional philosophers of language and mind have come to regard the late Wittgenstein as a kind of philosophical Samson—interested only in bringing everything down, particularly everything he himself had built in his earlier philosophy. Hills argues that we can attain to a more judicious conception of Wittgenstein’s purposes by pursuing another question: namely, what does Wittgenstein take philosophy to be? This question leads us to a source of the trouble anyone faces when trying to come to grips with Wittgenstein’s later texts, including, of course, the Philosophical Investigations. As Hills notes, Wittgenstein offers in them “no explicit account of what does and doesn’t count as philosophy for his purposes.” Then, in a richly illustrated and historically informed discussion, Hills develops the suggestion that what is at the heart of Wittgenstein’s account are two themes Wittgenstein sounds over and over again in his opposition to distinctly philosophical explanations and justifications. The first, as Hills puts it, is that “contrary to what we easily suppose, the natural world is a fit home” for the necessities and tendencies, proprieties and improprieties, that seem to confound philosophical accounts of the world; the second is that “all that really swims before the mind’s eye when we resolve to inspect our own thinking as we think . . . are bits of voluntary mental imagery,” while ‘the thinking itself is not subject to inspection at all,” or not, at least, by the one doing the thinking himself. With this, Hills explores another, more provocative, suggestion that what violate Wittgenstein’s strictures against “philosophical thesis mongering” are not the justifications and explanations that we might view as contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind, but rather the claims of contemporary psychologists and cognitive scientists that view themselves as “hard-headedly empirical” and who “profess not to have a philosophical bone in their bodies.”

Keywords: psychological grammar; Goethe; maps; private objects; bias, reason; wishful thinking; motivated reasoning; philosophical investigations; belief polarization

Chapter.  8116 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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