Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies

By P. M. S. Hacker | Go to book overview
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10 On Misunderstanding Wittgenstein: Kripke's Private-Language Argument

1 'Wittgenstein's Argument as it Struck Kripke'

After a long period of neglect, Wittgenstein's discussions of rule-following have, in the last few years, received some serious attention. This has been stimulated partly by a growing interest in his philosophy of mathematics, and partly by the publication of the enlarged edition of his Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, which includes a new fifty-page section on rule-following. Perhaps the most important stimulus, however, is the conviction among many philosophers that the confrontation between realism and anti-realism, between truth-conditional semantics and semantic theories involving the notion of assertion-conditions, is the fundamental issue in contemporary philosophy. Accordingly, the early Wittgenstein is strapped to the truth-conditions bandwagon, and the later Wittgenstein, straitjacketed within the confines of anti-realism, is harnessed to the assertion-conditions one. Since his remarks on rules have a clear bearing on issues that interest participants in this confrontation, they have become the focus of extensive discussion.

Saul Kripke's essay 'Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language' 1 applies this currently popular picture of Wittgenstein's early and later work to a reconsideration of the famous private-language argument in the Philosophical Investigations, § §243 ff. The discussion of rule-following that precedes the private-language argument (PI § §143-242) is the focal point of his examination, and from it he draws a variety of


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Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies


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