Conceiving of Conscious States

Christopher Peacocke

in Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

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

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This chapter investigates what it is to grasp concepts of conscious states, such as the concept of pain. These concepts have taken center stage in the philosophy of mind recently, in large part due to the conviction that understanding their nature can help undermine some persistent objections to materialism about the mind. The chapter’s author himself is not concerned here with materialism, though his chapter is bound to have a significant impact on discussions of it. The chapter argues that we should explain a subject’s grasp of the concept of pain in terms of the subject’s understanding of an identity: in terms of the subject’s understanding that what it is for someone else to be in pain--what it is for the concept of pain to apply to someone else--is for that person to be in a state identical to the state that the subject himself is in when he is in pain. While the chapter employs a number of Wittgensteinian insights in arguing for his position, it believes this position is one that Wittgenstein would reject. In fact, this chapter’s author understands himself as steering a middle way between the classic rival positions on conscious states of the later Wittgenstein and of Frege.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; conscious state; concept; concept of pain; phenomenal concept; identity condition; first-person; Frege

Chapter.  19377 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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