Social Interaction and the Development of Knowledge

By Jeremy I. M. Carpendale; Ulrich Miiller | Go to book overview

13
Wittgenstein's Internalistic Logic
and Children's Theories of Mind
Timothy P. Racine
Simon Fraser University

Gauging the impact of the writings of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein on developmental psychology is no simple matter. One could make the case that Wittgenstein has held considerable sway given that: (a) elements of his philosophy have been explicitly brought to bear on developmental issues (see Chapman & Dixon, 1987; Hobson, 1994, 2000; Hyman, 1991; Montgomery, 1997; Nelson & Kessler Shaw, 2002); and (b) his conception of a language-game shows up in various forms in developmental theory (e.g., in the social pragmatic approach to language development; e.g., Bruner, 1983). However, it is also the case that his philosophy is rarely applied in a thoroughgoing and cohesive manner. As such, whereas many developmentalists are likely to be familiar with Wittgenstein's strictures regarding language-games, and some may be familiar with his private language argument, it is not at all clear that many appreciate that Wittgenstein crafted these tools in opposition to a causal theory of meaning and mind. This seems acutely to be the case in the area of children's social understanding (children's so-called 'theories of mind') where the regnant and default assumptions seem to be that: (a) the mind or brain plays a causal role in learning about the minds of others; and (b) mental states are inner entities with validly statelike properties.

In this chapter, I introduce and attempt to integrate Wittgenstein's ideas within an internalistic logical framework. I argue that the underlying logic of Wittgenstein's thought and his opposition to a causal theory of meaning and mind is the wellspring from which the following jointly is

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