The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy

By Stanley Cavell | Go to book overview

XIII

Between Acknowledgment and Avoidance

In tracing our disappointment with criteria, in denying that Wittgensteinian criteria can, or are meant to, refute skepticism, I seem, in my remarks about the problem of other minds, to have left the other's privacy intact. And doesn't Wittgenstein deny privacy? What else is the teaching of his obsessive emphasis on the publicness of language and on the outwardness of criteria? I have suggested that the teaching is in service of a vision that false views of the inner and of the outer produce and sustain one another, and I would be glad to have suggested that the correct relation between inner and outer, between the soul and its society, is the theme of the Investigations as a whole. This theme, I might say, provides its moral.

In my earlier discussion I was led at one point to ask parenthetically, "In what spirit does Wittgenstein 'deny' the 'possibility' of a private language?" (p. 84). I will try to take that question outside its parentheses in the course of gathering together some concluding remarks on the topic of privacy.

What gives the impression that Wittgenstein wishes to deny that the soul is private? What, that is, do we wish to deny, in the face of Wittgenstein's teaching, when we feel we must protect the privacy of the soul against him? Is it that we feel the affirmation of privacy to be an affirmation of the existence of the soul itself? -- What idea do we have of privacy?

When Wittgenstein remarks "It cannot be said of me at all (except perhaps as a joke) that I know I am in pain", he does not -- how could

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