Private Experience and Sense Data

Paul Snowdon

in The Oxford Handbook of Wittgenstein

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199287505
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Private Experience and Sense Data

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In the mid 1930s, Ludwig Wittgenstein was immersed in problems about, amongst other things, experience, or perhaps one might say, our thought about experience. One record of his developing thinking are the notes that Rush Rhees himself made of the lectures by Wittgenstein on these topics which Rhees attended in 1936, published under the title ‘The Language of Sense Data and Private Experience’, in Philosophical Occasions. The ideas that Wittgenstein is developing in these notes and lectures culminated in the discussion of the same topics in Philosophical Investigations. What views about sense data and private experience is Wittgenstein proposing? Wittgenstein suggests that bad philosophy is produced by the ‘bewitchment of intelligence by language’. In addition, he brings out a genuine contrast between the status of the idea of the private object account of perception and the idea of private objects as involved in the experience of sensations. It is natural to read Wittgenstein's brief discussion of the so-called ‘visual room’ in Philosophical Investigations as another engagement with the sense datum model of perception.

Keywords: Ludwig Wittgenstein; sense data; private experience; Rush Rhees; Philosophical Investigations; private objects; perception; visual room; sensations; philosophy

Article.  15635 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; History of Western Philosophy

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