The Private Language Argument One More Time

Robert J. Fogelin

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:
The Private Language Argument One More Time

Show Summary Details


This chapter rejects its own prior interpretation Wittgenstein’s discussions of private language, according to which Wittgenstein’s goal is to provide an argument intended to establish the thesis that a private language is impossible. The chapter here argues that Wittgenstein’s aim is importantly different: it is to show that the very idea of a private language lacks coherent content. The primary error Wittgenstein’s readers too often commit, according to this chapter, is to mistake some of Wittgenstein’s grammatical remarks for philosophical remarks. Wittgenstein urges throughout his later work that mistaking a grammatical claim for a philosophical one is a common source of philosophical confusion. The grammatical claims the chapter has in mind in this case are some of the claims Wittgenstein makes using expressions such as “obeying a rule,” “private,” and “sensations.”

Keywords: Wittgenstein; private language; private language argument; rule-following; grammar; grammatical; obeying a rule; sensation; private object; Philosophical Investigations

Chapter.  7993 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.