Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind

Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Mind


Philosophical questions about the mind preoccupied much of Wittgenstein's later writing, and his contribution to them is deep and wide-ranging, bearing upon philosophical issues concerning sense-experience, concept formation, perception, introspection, the science of psychology, aspect perception, the self, the understanding of rules, the relation between mind and brain, artificial intelligence, and many other subjects of current concern. According to a growing number of eminent philosophers, however, many of Wittgenstein's most important insights still have not been properly absorbed by contemporary philosophical debates on these topics. In anything, work on these subjects is less informed by Wittgenstein's examples and discussions than ever before. In this volume, philosophers from inside and outside of Wittgensteinian circles explore Wittgenstein's treatment of philosophcial questions about the mind and issues in contemporary philosophy of mind upon which Wittgenstein's philosophy may have significance. Bringing to bear their broad range of perspectives on his philosophy, these philosophers collectively demonstrate its fundamental import for present-day philosophy of mind.


David Hills

The first step is the one that entirely escapes notice. We talk of processes and states, and leave their
nature undecided. Sometime perhaps we’ll know more about them—we think. But that’s just
what commits us to a particular way of looking at the matter. For we have a certain conception of
what it means to learn to know a process better. (The decisive movement in the conjuring trick has
been made, and it was the very one that seemed to us quite innocent.)

Philosophical Investigations §308

Most of the essays in this volume address recognized controversies in contemporary philosophy of mind and contemporary cognitive science, using material from Wittgenstein’s later work as points of departure. They treat Wittgenstein as a useful ally or worthy antagonist in attempts to pose and solve determinate contemporary philosophical problems. the other essays, by Fogelin, Goldfarb, Hacker, and Stroud, are works of exegesis, remarkably diverse efforts to “take Wittgenstein at his word” when he calls for a purely therapeutic philosophy, a philosophy without surprising theses, a philosophy that

I regret that I was able to attend only the last two days of the memorably rich and beautifully
organized conference on Wittgenstein and the philosophy of mind that Daniel Guevara and Jon
Ellis hosted at uc Santa Cruz in June 2007. the talks were accompanied by carefully crafted
replies and elicited searching questions from the audience; there was abundant opportunity for
informal philosophical conversation between sessions; the full-time, long-time Wittgenstein
scholars gave a warm welcome to generalist neophytes like myself. This preface incorporates the
comments I gave at the conference to a paper by P. M. S. Hacker, and I am deeply grateful for the
characteristic care and thoroughness and firmness with which he responded to my objections
and queries, both on the spot and in subsequent correspondence. I’m indebted to various other

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