Wittgenstein on the Role of Experience in Understanding Language

John Campbell

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:
Wittgenstein on the Role of Experience in Understanding Language

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This chapter concerns the role of perception in understanding. More specifically, it investigates the role that conscious experience plays in a subject’s coming to understand the meaning of a word through ostensive definition, as well as the role it plays in a subject’s being justified in the subsequent use of the word. The chapter focuses on color words in particular (e.g., “red,” “yellow”) and argues that, in the ostensive definition of these words, color experience provides knowledge of their reference. Knowledge of reference, the chapter claims, is required for the subject to understand the definition and justifies the subject’s subsequent use of the color term. The chapter contrasts his view with the view he attributes to Wittgenstein, according to which attention to color requires and is thus not prior to ordinary talk about color.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; understanding; perception; perception in understanding; conscious experience; ostensive definition; color words; color experience

Chapter.  6082 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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