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Title:The Private Language Problem
Author(s):Tanner, Steven Oliver
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:The thesis surveys and assesses the adequacy of interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's "private language argument" to date. Two major "waves" of interpretation are identified. Among the characteristics of the first wave is found a tendency to interpret the private language argument as having something crucially to do with memory, and in a way which has stimulated charges of objectionable verificationism. The second wave is seen to center upon the concept of rule-following, and to engender charges of objectionable conventionalism (or nominalism).
Two examples of first wave interpretation are examined and rejected, both theoretically and exegetically, thereby removing the ground for charges of verificationism. Analysis of several examples of second wave interpretation focuses attention upon consideration of certain issues concerning natural kinds and the "new theory of reference", as well as the "new realism" associated with the latter. The suggestion is offered that Wittgenstein's concepts of "grammatical statement", "harmony", and "method of projection" may provide a way of avoiding the pitfalls of both nominalism and the new realism.
Finally, the entire series of passages comprising what is traditionally regarded as the private language problem is surveyed, revealing a structure containing three "movements", more comparable to a symphony than to linear argumentation. Further work along the general lines suggested by second wave interpretation is indicated, particularly with an eye to elaborating the notion of a "method of projection" as a way of grasping the (a) relation between language and what it is about that will not seem to deny the existence of an objective reality. In conjunction with this, the idea that certain versions of the new theory of reference may entail the existence or possibility of a "private language", suggests further work on the extent to which this may constitute a major criticism of the "new theory".
Issue Date:1986
Description:263 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8610984
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1986

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