Rules, Privacy, and Physicalism

Jim Hopkins

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199737666
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199933372 | DOI:
Rules, Privacy, and Physicalism

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This chapter puts Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following and privacy to novel use in an argument for physicalism about the mind. The chapter proceeds with evident concern to keep controversy and complications regarding the issues of rule-following and privacy to a minimum. It thus lays down what he takes to be more or less common ground on these topics and attempts to derive from it a physicalist thesis. The chapter makes interesting use of the distinction Wittgenstein draws between the first-person and third-person perspectives. Only if we attend to this distinction, this chapter argues, will we see that Wittgenstein’s diagnosis of the difficulties concerning rule-following and privacy ultimately supports a kind of mind-brain identity thesis. This is so, the chapter notes, even if Wittgenstein did not himself espouse physicalism.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; physicalism; rule-following; private language; first-person; third-person; mind-brain identity

Chapter.  21201 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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