I've been reading the last few threads with great interest. Thanks to the
contributors for the stimulating discussion.
Gavin suggested Wittgenstein's private language arguments are relevant to
this thread. I strongly agree, and I always seem to think a better
understanding of Wittgenstein would help us clear a lot of the ground being
revisited with respect to who (or what) can intelligibly be the bearer of
'psychological' predicates, e.g. think, believe, intend, design, conceive,
etc. (Alan Turing attended Wittgenstein's lectures at Cambridge, but
obviously they didn't leave a lasting impression...)
I would warn list readers away from philosophy online's interpretation of
the 'beetles in boxes' thought experiment, though. Wittgenstein was neither
a solipsist nor behaviorist (one might get either impression from the
article in the link below).
My understanding of the role of the beetles in the investigations was as one
illustration among many showing us what must be in place in order for a
concept to have meaning in language. Wittgenstein is attacking the idea that
our ordinary concept of mind (the one we use about ourselves and others in
daily conversation) refers to an essentially private object, substance, or
imagescape etc. This is a mistaken picture of the concept of mind. This
doesn't mean that we cannot know what is in other people's minds (contra
philosophy online), just that that particular picture of mind-as-a-private-
doesn't fit with the public ratafiability of words in language. For example,
we don't learn (as children) how to use the word 'mind' by first inspecting
our own minds (what is in our box). Rather the thing in the box has no role
in the operation or application of the concept. Whatever is 'in the box'
could be different for every person, or there could be nothing there at all;
either of these situations would have no effect on our use of the concept of
mind as we ordinarily use it in our daily business.
Note this is not an ontological claim; it is rather a clarification of the
way words in language obtain uses (meanings) publicly, within and by virtue
of our social dealings with each other.
Kind regards to all from Denmark
On 8/15/09 2:21 PM, "Gavin Melles" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Sounds like wittgenstein's beetle