Understanding Wittgenstein: Studies of Philosophical Investigations

By J. F. M. Hunter | Go to book overview

Twelve
THE PICTURE POT

296. 'Yes, but there is something there all the same accompanying my cry of pain. And it is on account of that that I utter it. And this something is what is important -- and frightful'. -- Only whom are you informing of this, and on what occasion?

297. Of course, if water boils in a pot, steam comes out of the pot and also pictured steam comes out of the pictured pot. But what if one insisted on saying that there must be something boiling in the picture of the pot?

ON A HASTY reading Wittgenstein might be taken here to be saying that there is no more anything accompanying our cry of pain than there is water boiling in the picture of a pot with steam coming out. This would be a very madcap and almost certainly false claim, -- unless it were read as an objection to the exact formulation, an objection perhaps to describing pain as 'something', or as 'accompanying' cries of pain. Wittgenstein does elswhere (§304) object to conceiving pain as 'a something', and he might well object to the idea that it exactly accompanies cries of pain; but there is presumably a difference between being 'something' and being 'a something'; and there is nothing in these sections that even hints that there is an objection to the formulation. On the contrary, Wittgenstein seems to be agreeing that there is something right about saying there is something accompanying my cry of pain -- when he says 'only whom am I informing of this'. 'Only'is used there in the way we use the words 'yes, but . . .' -- to concede what was said, while going on to object to something else -- the significance of it, or its relevance.

If there is any suspicion remaining that Wittgenstein denies that there is pain as well as pain-behaviour, it is put to

-106-

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